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Disabled workers may keep benefits under new plans

People claiming sickness or disability benefits may be allowed to receive payments even after finding a job, under new government plans to help support people back into work.

One of the proposed changes is an overhaul or scrapping of the work capability assessment.

Instead of asking people to prove how sick they are, candidates would be asked to show what level of work they are capable of undertaking, according to report in The Times.

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The move to a positive, capability-focused approach would be a meaningful step towards workplace diversity, according to Toby Mildon, diversity and inclusion architect at consultancy Mildon.

Mildon told HR magazine:“Our current approach is a ‘deficit approach’ where you have to demonstrate how disabled you are rather than what your strengths are and what you are capable of achieving with workplace adjustments

“Disabled people who want to work and contribute to society are underemployed in the UK. We need to be more encouraging to those who wish to work and obtain meaningful employment, not penalise them.”

Many disabled people, he added, face a significantly higher cost of living than others, which can affect their quality of life.

He said: “We should do anything we can to expand the economic mobility of disabled people and those living with long-term health conditions.”

Angela Matthews, head of policy at non-profit Business Disability Forum (BDF), told HR magazine she was glad to see the government consider measures to ease the burden of moving from benefits into work.

She said: “We have not seen the detail of how the proposed new system will work, but some disabled people have told us they feel a phased overlap between sickness benefits and an employment salary would help as they ‘re-jig’ their finances when moving from no work to some work, and then from some work to full-time or almost full-time work.”

Others, she added, would like to explore paid work opportunities, such as paid work trials or work experience to ease into the workplace without being stripped of their sickness benefits.

She said: “If the benefits system allowed this, we can see an enormous opportunity to increase labour market participation. We look forward to seeing further detail of these plans in the upcoming white paper.”