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13 July 2009
Successful claims for employment and support allowance are running at half the rate of successful incapacity benefit claims due to the harsh new medical test for ESA, according to a report in today’s Financial Times.

The paper claims that welfare to work industry insiders have been shown figures which suggest that only around one third of claimants are being awarded ESA compared to around two thirds of incapacity benefits claimants.  Astonishingly, the paper alleges that in some areas the failure rate is as high as 90%.

If true the figures would have alarming implications for the 2.6 million people currently found incapable of work under the personal capability assessment, who are due to be assessed using the harsh new work capability assessment starting from 2010.

The figures would also go some way to explaining the huge delays and backlogs building up in the medical assessment process.  Claimants can only be found capable of work after a medical, but can be found incapable of work solely on paper evidence without the need for an examination. The high failure rate would mean that many more people are having a medical examination in relation to ESA compared to incapacity benefit.

The DWP have neither confirmed nor denied the claims.

The FT report is available from this link.