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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 October, 2004, 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK
Unions defend incapacity payouts
A computer user in a wheelchair
People need help to get back into the workforce
Cracking down on incapacity benefit claimants will only hurt the vulnerable, the TUC has said.

Research commissioned by the body suggested that less than 1% of claimants were fraudulent.

The TUC added that many of the 1.5 million people in receipt of the benefit faced prejudice when trying to find work.

There has been a growing debate over how to get incapacity benefit claimants back into the workforce.


The TUC research found that four out of ten people on the benefit want to get back into the workforce.

Job placements should be increased in a bid to help rather than force claimants back to work, said the report, which has been sent to the new Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson.

"You cannot force people into jobs that would cause them real pain or exhaustion," Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said.

"But you can encourage and support disabled people to find and get jobs, as well as tackle the discrimination among employers that is condemning too many workers to benefits. There are no easy savings here."

Mr Barber added that he would like to see the government roll out pilot schemes to help people claiming incapacity benefit into the workforce.

However, last month, it was revealed that less than 2% of those eligible had joined the Disabled New Deal.

The voluntary employment programme helps people with health conditions and disabilities get work.

About 32% of the 67,983 people registered with the scheme gained paid work and about 39% of those had found long-term jobs as a result of the scheme.

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