East End disability benefit claimants told: ‘You’re fit for work’

Hundreds of men and women on disability benefit in London’s deprived East End have been told they are ‘fit for work’.

A third of those going through reassessment have been found to be capable of getting a job, according to the Department of Works & Pensions.

More than 1,700 claimants in Tower Hamlets alone were reassessed, with 620 being told they would no longer be able to claim from 2014 when the rules change.

Another 590 have been told they are deemed to be able to return to work in the near future.

Only 500 will be left in the East End to claim disability allowance permanently.

The reassessment of disability pay was condemned this week by Tower Hamlets Labour Group after the government figures were released yesterday (Tues).

“Taking people’s benefits away won’t help them find work,” warned Cllr Rachael Saunders, Labour’s Adult Health Spokesperson.

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“This will be a devastating blow for the 620 who previously had support because they had been deemed incapable of working—that support is now being withdrawn.”

Just over a-quarter of those currently on benefits, 29 per cent, will be allowed to continue permanently, Employment Minister Mark Hoban assured.

He told the Advertiser: “The old incapacity benefit system condemned too many people to a life on benefits without any hope of ever going back to work—this was simply wrong.

“Reassessing everyone can help people move back into work if they’re capable, while giving unconditional support to those who need it.”

But Labour was adamant those on benefits were getting a raw deal.

Cllr Saunders added: “It is wrong to change the goal posts and typical of the same old Tories to cut benefits with no sense of the human cost.”

The government estimates one-and-a-half million people up and down the country will be undergoing reassessment by 2014, a process now half way through.

Nationally, more than a third of claimants, 36 per cent, have been assessed as ‘fit for work’—the same percentage as Tower Hamlets.