4000 people lose disability benefits

Claimants have lost disability benefits
Claimants have lost disability benefits

A total of 4,100 benefits claimants in the South Tyrone and Fermanagh area have lost their incapacity benefit since strict new disability tests were introduced.

In 2011, there were 4,400 local people in the local constituency receiving the benefit, which is paid to people who are too ill to hold down a job.

Many of them have been transferred to the Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is about £30 less per week than the sickness-related benefit.

The clampdown, meant to end unchecked ‘welfare for life’, involved the reassessment of all sickness benefit claimants by ATOS, a private medical company, which has been criticised by politicians and disability groups.

In the same period, the number of people claiming Employment Support Allowance in the local area has increased from 1,620 to 5,100 a rise of 3,480.

It is believed that almost a third of benefit claimants in Northern Ireland who were re-assessed for their entitlement to Incapacity Benefit have been found fit to work.

However, critics have said the reassessment is part of an attempt to cut the overall welfare bill and they are unhappy with many aspects of the reassessment process.

Advice NI, a local independent advice network, is among those who have claimed the process is flawed.