THE Government has revealed that 20,000 of Sheffield’s 500,000 residents are claiming incapacity benefit - as sweeping changes were today brought in which aim to reduce the number of people classed as too sick to work.
And in Doncaster, 13,000 of 160,000 residents - almost 10 per cent of the entire population - are receiving the payments.
Employment Secretary Chris Grayling said that over the next three years, every one of 1.6 million people around the country who are receiving incapacity benefit will have their cases re-examined to see if they are fit to return to a job.
Mr Grayling said: “We will ask each of those claimants to provide us with written information about their case, with any supporting material that they want to provide from their own doctors, and we will also ask them to go through a reassessment exercise.
“I cannot stress strongly enough that this is not about forcing people back to work if they are genuinely unable to do so. Nor are we tied into specific financial targets about the number of people we need to get back to work.
“This is about finding out who we can help. Perhaps to do something different to what they did previously, but still to do something more with their lives.”
But the chairman of one Sheffield community association said: “The problem is that there is no work to go to - and, for others, they are receiving more in benefits than from going to work. It is very easy for people to cheat the system and there are whole families where successive generations do not work.
“Successive governments have tried to tackle this problem and not got very far.”
The association chairman, who did not wish to be named, added: “People who are on incapacity benefit get their rent paid or, if they own their homes, a proportion of their interest. If they went back to work, they would not qualify for this help.”