Mar 19, 2006

British Plan To Return Disabled To Work Criticized

The British Prime Minister has proposed a plan that promises to return to work one million people drawing disability benefits under British Social Security. This has relevance to the United States since there have been steadily increasing complaints that U.S. Social Security is not doing enough to return disabled Social Security recipients to work. This goes along with a belief that if further return to work efforts were made that the costs of the U.S. Social Security disability program could be cut dramatically. In Britain, the plan to return disabled people to work has been predicted to save 7 billion British pounds per year.

A key part of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's plan is to draw a distinction between those who have the potential to return to work and those who do not and to give a good deal of return to work assistance to those who have that potential, as well as applying a good deal of compulsion to them. Such a plan would be attractive to many in the U.S. The British plan, which has not yet been implemented, is drawing criticism from a new study. The author of the study, Professor Richard Berthoud of the Institute for Social and Economic Research stated recently that:
The analysis [in the government consultation paper] shows a wide range of impairments among disabled people, with a gradual deterioration in job prospects across that range. It is by no means clear, from these data, where a dividing line could be drawn between those with realistic and unrealistic expectations. The paper does not explain how this judgment will be made. Nor does it say what will happen to disabled people who try but fail to find a job over a long period, even though they had been assessed as potential workers.

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