Damian Green scraps health assessments for chronically-ill benefit claimants

Posted On: 
1st October 2016

Health assessments for chronically-ill benefits claimants are to be scrapped by the Government, it has been announced.

Damian Green is softening the Government's approach to welfare
PA Images

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said repeatedly testing those with severe life-long conditions – such as Huntingdon’s, MS, severe autism and Parkinson’s – “only adds to their anxiety and difficulties".

At the moment, they are among the two million Employment Support Allowance recipients who face regular health checks to see if they are fit for work.

Cutting benefits is not an incentive to find work - government-backed report

Welfare benefits campaign receives cross party support

Third of MPs have claimed unemployment benefits

But Mr Green told The Times: "What we will be doing is stopping reassessing benefits for those who have long-term sickness, those who have severe health conditions that require help and that are not going to get any better.

"It’s Theresa (May) doing what she thinks we should do, which is that the Tory party is not the nasty party, it’s a compassionate party.”

Mr Green added: "We are building a country that works for everyone – not just the privileged few. A key part of that is making sure that all those who are able to work are given the support and the opportunity to do so. But it also means ensuring that we give full and proper support to those who can’t.

"That includes sweeping away any unnecessary stress and bureaucracy – particularly for the most vulnerable in society. If someone has a disease which can only get worse then it doesn’t make sense to ask them to turn up for repeated appointments. If their condition is not going to improve, it is not right to ask them to be tested time after time. So we will stop it.”

His approach marks a major departure from Iain Duncan Smith's time in the job, and is another pitch for moderate voters who may have been turned off by the Government's previous hardline. approach.

ESA recipients claim up to £109.30 a week. Mr Green's move would scrap reassessments for up to 100,000 of them.

The exact definition of the conditions exempt from testing will be worked out after a green paper on welfare reform is published later this year.

Mr Green added: "It is important that we should take seriously the caring responsibilities of the welfare state and that people with severe conditions which are degenerative don’t constantly feel they have to prove themselves with repeated tests to prove they are still entitled to benefits.".