Incapacity Benefit (IB) is a United Kingdom state benefit that is paid to those below the State Pension age who cannot work because of illness or disability and have made National Insurance contributions. It is administered by Jobcentre Plus (an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions). As of May 2011 there were 2.6m people of working age in Britain claiming incapacity benefit, approximately 8.5% of the total adult workforce in the United Kingdom, at an annual cost to the tax payer of £12.5 billion.
Income supplement for UK citizens suffering from long-term disability was introduced in 1971 under the title of Invalidity Benefit; payments increased substantially in the 1980s, and it was suggested by some that this was the result of a deliberate attempt to encourage take-up by the Thatcher government, elected on the slogan "Labour Isn't Working" but now anxious at a steepening rise in unemployment. However it has also been argued that the real cause of the rise in numbers was the increase in the value of Incapacity Benefit compared to unemployment benefits that took place in the 1970s during the governments led by Edward Heath and Harold Wilson.
In 1995 Incapacity Benefit replaced Invalidity Benefit and Sickness Benefit and in 2008 was in its turn replaced by Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Some individuals who were already receiving Incapacity Benefit before the introduction of ESA have continued to do so provided they have remained eligible. They have been subject to a periodic "personal capability assessment" to establish that they remained incapable of work.
When ESA was introduced the intention was to transfer some of the Incapacity Benefit claimants to ESA on a rolling basis between 2010 and 2014 using the ESA "Work Capability Assessment" (WCA). Claimants deemed to have a limited capability for work were to be transferred to the new benefit.
An individual could have been eligible for Incapacity Benefit if:
- They were not entitled to statutory sick pay; and
- They satisfied the national insurance contribution test; and
- They were under pension age when the period of incapacity for work begins; and
- They were incapable of work.
It is also possible for Incapacity Benefit claimants to receive a 'top-up' of Income Support payments. These conditions are complicated and advice should be sought from Jobcentre Plus, Citizens Advice Bureau or a welfare rights organisation.
According to the Daily Mail newspaper, approximately 1.3 million tests were carried out on applicants for Incapacity Benefit between October 2008 and November 2010. Of these, 88,700 people were found eligible, a further 17% were found to be able to do some form of work with sufficient support, and the vast majority were found ineligible. Over one in three dropped out during the course of the application process.
As of May 2011 there were 2.6m people of working age in Britain claiming Incapacity Benefit, at an annual cost to the tax payer of £12.5 billion. The total annual budget of the Department for Work and Pensions in 2011-12 is £151.6 billion, representing approximately 28% of total UK Government spending.
The 2.6m claimant count represents approximately 8.5% of the total adult workforce in the United Kingdom of around 30.1m individuals. Of those claiming Incapacity Benefit, around a quarter of a million were unable to work due to mental illness.
In 2010 the United Kingdom's new Coalition government announced that it intended to re-assess Incapacity Benefit claimants and transfer any who are fully capable of work to Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).
In April 2011 a rolling program began under which all existing Incapacity Benefit claimants are to be re-assessed using the WCA. Those who pass the assessment will be moved to ESA. Those who fail will be disqualified from both ESA and IB. They may be able to apply for JSA if they satisfy its conditions. This process is intended to be completed by March 2014.
During pilot projects which were carried out in Aberdeen and Burnley, results showed that 30% of existing Incapacity Benefit claimants were ineligible. A further 39% of claimants were considered ineligible, but requiring "extra help". The remaining 31% of claimants were found eligible, and as a result remained entitled to continuing support.
- Demography of the United Kingdom
- Department for Work and Pensions
- Economy of the United Kingdom
- Ontario Disability Support Payment
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- United Kingdom budget
- See http://www.dpac.uk.net/tag/invalidity-benefit/
- "The Welfare State We're In" by James Bartholomew (Politicos 2004 and 2006 and Biteback 2013)
- "Social security benefits: incapacity benefit: summary". www.hmrc.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- Daily Mail 27th July 2011 Retrieved September 2011
- BBC news Retrieved Aeptember 2011
- out of a total Welfare bill of £192 billion Daily Telegraph Saturday 10 September 2011 Retrieved September 2011
- News Distribution Service Retrieved September 2011
- Article at www.wordpress.com Retrieved September 2011
- "The Coalition: our programme for government". p. 23. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "Disability Alliance Factsheet: Incapacity Benefit". www.disabilityalliance.org. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
- Daily Telegraph April 4th, 2011 Retrieved September 2011
- Daily Telegraph Blog Retrieved September 2011