Monday, 21 July 2008
Getting serious on IB
It is true that there have been many attempts to get to grips with the problem of Incapacity Benefit, and the absurd number of people who claim eligibility to it. Ever since the Tories used it to massage the unemployment figures in the eighties, IB has been a route to lifelong benefit dependency for many. This is why James Purnell's measures today are welcome - and necessary. It is another sign that this government is being radical in its reforms, and as James points out in a well-argued piece in today's Guardian, another sign that Labour is grasping its responsibilities to tackle poverty. I do have some sympathy with Frank Field's argument that the real problem with IB is that it pays more than Jobseekers' Allowance; a better reform might be to focus extra help through Disability Living Allowance - which helps people with disabilities to work - rather than the replacement for IB. Nevertheless, this is a big start and one deserving of support.