Sickness benefit claimants to have regular health meetings

Some people on sickness benefit are to be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals
Some people on sickness benefit are to be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals
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People on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals – or face losing their benefits.

A two-year pilot scheme will begin in Northamptonshire and other counties this month.

People involved in the pilot – who have all been assessed as being able to work at some point in the future – will have regular appointments with healthcare professionals as a condition of receiving their benefit, to focus on helping them move closer to being able to get a job.

The pilot will compare the help given by healthcare professionals to two other pilot schemes offering “employment-focused support” to see which is most effective at helping people off sickness benefits and into work.

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One in southern England will give enhanced support from Jobcentre Plus. The other in the north-east will see Work Programme providers increasing the help they give to people on sickness benefits.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “It’s really important we give people who are disabled or have a health condition the support they need to get into work if they are able.

“Traditionally, this help has tended to be work-related, but this pilot will look at whether a more holistic approach is more successful in helping people to manage their conditions and so break down their barriers to work.

“The regular discussions with healthcare professionals will not replace someone’s GP, but can promote health support and help a claimant to re-engage with their GP if they are struggling to adapt to their condition.

“They will also signpost claimants to activities and information to help them manage their condition to improve their readiness for getting a job, and work with local services to provide a holistic approach to health interventions.”

The pilots will run until August 2016. People will be selected to take part in the trial on a random basis.

About 3,000 people in the work-related activity group for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) living in the Black Country, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Staffordshire and Shropshire will take part in the scheme.

In total, about 8,300 people are expected to take part in the three pilots.