Thousands of residents could suffer from benefits crackdown

The government’s crackdown on long-term sick leave could leave thousands of the borough’s residents out of pocket after the prime minister promised “tough action” to get people back into work.

David Cameron said some claimants of incapacity benefits did not “deserve” them after figures revealed 80,000 people received the payments because they were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or obese.

The Department for Work and Pensions last week started sending reassessment letters to claimants of incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance or other illness.

Almost all of the borough’s thousands of claimants – those who have been receiving the benefits for more than six months – must undergo medical tests to prove that they cannot work.

They would be forced to apply for jobs or jobseekers’ allowance payments instead, meaning their weekly income would fall from �89.90 to the current JSA rate of �64.30.

Out of 6,500 claimants in Barking and Dagenham, 4.510 have been on incapacity benefits for at least five years and 1,730 for two to five.

A comparatively low figure of 190 people have been receiving the support for between one and two years.

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Only 80 people in the borough signed up to benefits due to disability or ill-health in the last year.

Mr Cameron said: “Some cannot work and must be helped, for we are a compassionate society.

“But there are some who do not deserve them and we are not looking after taxpayers’ money if we do not try and make these people go to work. It’s not just tough talk, it’s tough action.”

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