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10 900 Dundee people need quality support to find work, says Dundee's Finance Convener

January 25, 2006 8:25 AM

Dundee City Council's Liberal Democrat Finance Convener Cllr Fraser Macpherson today called on the Government to give a clear commitment to help and support the 10 900 Dundee people on incapacity benefit. The follows yesterday's new welfare reform proposals were announced by Work & Pensions Secretary of State John Hutton MP.

Cllr Macpherson emphasised the need for "reforms that provide a high level of individual tailored support so that thousands of disabled people who want to go back to work can." According to Nomis, the National Labour Market Statistics (May 2005) 10 900 people are in receipt of Incapacity Benefit between the two Dundee Westminster parliamentary constituencies and Cllr Macpherson emphasised that it was vital that the Government "avoids the temptation to grab easy headlines and ensure that reforms are sustainable and constructive."

Cllr Macpherson said -

"Within a year of coming to power, Labour published a Welfare Reform Green Paper, talked about tackling the rising number of people on incapacity benefit and helping the million claimants who said they wanted to work..

"Eight years on we are in exactly the same position.

"We have seen eight years of failure, which is a scandalous waste of human potential and which has condemned a million people across the UK who want to work to a lifetime on benefits.

"I will be looking at the proposals in detail in order to make sure that the 10 900 Dundee incapacity benefit claimants are given good quality support, individually tailored to meet their needs. I will also be looking to make sure that are sufficient safeguards to prevent vulnerable people from being sanctioned because the system is not sophisticated enough to deal with complex conditions.

"There must also be more support to help people retain their jobs when they become ill; more support for employers to take on disabled staff; greater use of voluntary sector expertise; and enough flexibility within the proposed new benefits so that those with fluctuating conditions are not penalised.

"Finally, the increasing incidence of mental health problems requires special attention. The grim statistics show that if you are on the benefit for more than two years, you are more likely to die or retire than return to work."

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