This paper is the third in a series on reforming the sickness and disability-related out-of-work benefits system. A priority for successive governments, reform has, to date, been inadequate and progress woeful.
In 2014-15 there were just over 2.5 million working-age claimants of incapacity-related benefits – a decade earlier there were almost 2.8 million. In the intervening period Incapacity Benefit was replaced by Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with an expectation that a million of ‘those trapped by the current system’ would move into work.
Alongside the reforms to the benefit system, successive governments have put in place welfare-to-work programmes aimed at supporting people with a disability or health condition to make the transition into work. As the minimal shift in caseload numbers illustrates, none of these initiatives have delivered the step change in outcomes government has sought.