icCoventry - Benefits tests to be changed
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Benefits tests to be changedJul 2 2006
Tests on jobless benefit claimants will be changed to reflect the growing impact of stress and mental illness under reforms being unveiled this week.
Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton will publish his Welfare Reform Bill - aimed at getting a million people off benefit and into work - on Tuesday.
It will include measures to update the so-called personal capability assessment used to decide whether claimants are fit to work.
Under the plans, more severely disabled people would receive a higher rate of benefit and have no obligation to look for work.
But claimants assessed as able to work would have to take part in initiatives designed to help them back into jobs, such as counselling, training and advice.
People who refused to take part in those schemes could lose part of their benefits.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said that the proportion of people off work due to depression, anxiety and stress had risen significantly since the test was developed more than 20 years ago.
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