More than 2,000 people in Northern Ireland have been taken off Incapacity Benefit after having their eligibility reassessed.

**I love how they put that positive spin on pulling the rug out from under people.
25 Mar 2012

All 76,000 claimants of the work ineligibility benefit will be reviewed over the next two years.

Over the past 12 months, 9,328 people have completed the reassessment programme – just over a quarter of them, 2,202 people, were found capable of work.

A further 4,262 were capable of some work while 2,864 were not capable of work.

Those who were found to have capability will now be placed in the Work Related Activity Group and will receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said they will be offered support to ensure they can understand “the options available” to them.

“The reassessment of Incapacity Benefit customers is vitally important,” he said.

“It ensures that we do not allow people to languish on a life of benefits, with no opportunity or support to move back into employment.

“This reassessment process is focussing on what people can do, and giving them the support they need to take the necessary steps, for the first time in a long time, towards getting back to work.”

Everyone in the region who is currently in receipt of Incapacity Benefit – as well as Severe Disablement Allowance or Income Support paid on the grounds of incapacity – will have to take part in the Work Capability Assessment programme.

Of those who have been found fit for work, 1,368 claimants have appealed against the decision. In 97 cases the appeal has been upheld in their favour.

Meanwhile those who have been found not capable of work have been awarded the highest rate of ESA and are not expected to undertake any work-related activity.

Mr McCausland added: “I am not denying that this reassessment process may present challenges; some people may have been out of work for a long time, but that doesn’t mean that they should be forgotten.

“In fact it is even more reason to put them high on our list of priorities to help them move back towards the workplace.”

The DUP minister said the process is expected to be completed by March 2014.