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The misuse of evidence in incapacity benefit reform

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Abstract:

The number of people claiming incapacity benefits increased rapidly to the mid 1990s, and has hardly reduced since then, but this does not mean that large numbers of people claim incapacity benefit when they are in fact capable of work - the basis of Government policy for the past fifteen years. The key research source for this belief is critically examined, as is the evidence of the negative impact of a poorly informed and directed programme of incapacity benefit reform. Data suggesting an association between high levels of incapacity benefit claiming and high levels of limiting long-term illness and health inequality is examined; and a more nuanced approach put forward to the belief that work is always beneficial to health. Finally, a conservative estimate of the numbers incorrectly deprived of their incapacity benefits since the beginning of this reform in 1995 is offered.

Keywords: HEALTH INEQUALITY; INCAPACITY BENEFIT; WELFARE REFORM

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3898/136266211795427503

Publication date: April 8, 2011

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