The Labour Party today set out new measures to help disabled people back to work, after House of Commons library analysis revealed that the Tory-led Government’s failure means it is set to overspend by £8 billion on out-of-work benefits for sick and disabled people. The new figures, uncovered as part of Labour’s Zero-Based Review of government spending, show that ministers are set to spend over £8 billion more than planned on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in this parliament (2010-2015).
The figures come as official Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics show that the number of people claiming incapacity benefits has risen by 50,000 in the six months since February this year.
A key reason for the huge overspend is the failure of government schemes to help people who claim disability benefits into work. The Work Programme has helped just one in 20 of those claiming disability benefits to find jobs.
A Labour government will improve employment support for sick and disabled people. Labour would introduce a new specialist Work Support programme for sick and disabled people who are furthest from the labour market. The programme will bring together existing resources from badly targeted and failing government schemes, including Work Choice and the Work Programme. The new Work Support programme will build on reforms to improve the flawed Work Capability Assessment to ensure that it provides a gateway to back-to-work support.
Kate Green MP, Labour's shadow minister for Disabled People, said:
“Thousands of disabled people who want to work are being failed by the Tories. The Work Programme isn’t working for disabled people, with just one in 20 finding jobs, while this Tory-led Government slashes specialist support in job centres.
"The Tories’ failure to help disabled people into work comes at a huge cost to disabled people in every corner of the country who are being let down and to taxpayers who are facing an £8 billion bill.
"We must bring down social security spending and doing that requires a new approach to tackle the root causes of these costs directly. That’s why Labour will give disabled people the support they need to find a job. Our Work Support programme will bring hope to thousands of disabled people who have been let down by David Cameron’s government.”