Sick workers 'a waste of talent'
SHEFFIELD has one of the highest proportions of people out of work due to illness or disability, according to Government figures.
More than 26,000 people in Sheffield are claiming either incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance - the sixth highest total in England behind Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds.
Gordon Brown’s Government is committed to getting one million incapacity benefit claimants into work as part of a goal of achieving “full employment in our generation”.
The number of benefit claimants has fallen in Sheffield in recent years - but the city still remains near the top of the Department of Work and Pensions league table. New figures show there were 27,260 incapacity benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance claimants in 2004, 26,900 in 2005 and 26,190 in November last year.
Philip Hammond, the Conservatives Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Numbers claiming incapacity benefit in Sheffield represent a huge waste of talent and enterprise in the city.
“We know that a significant number of people want to work and could be able to work with the right support and training.”
In reforms now being rolled out across the country, incapacity benefit recipients who are deemed to have "limited capability for work" - but not limited capability for "work-related" activity - are asked to take part in training, work trials and work-focused interviews.
Benefits are docked for those refusing to attend a work interview.
Incapacity benefit and Jobseekers Allowance will next year be replaced with a single Employment and Support Allowance for those whose health affects their ability to work.
A new Personal Capabilities Assessment will be carried out on all claimants. People whose disabilities are so severe they are unable to work will receive a new higher benefit.
A study by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University found that, in addition to the 900,000 people out of work and claiming benefit, Britain had another 1.7 million "hidden jobless".