There are currently 2.1 million unemployed people according to the official statistics based on the claimant count.
There are a further 2.6 million who are claiming long-term disability benefits, but the rules have changed. Applicants for sickness benefits are no longer judged on whether they age sick but n whether they are able to work. The results is that more than two-thirds of applicants for sickness benefits are being rejected under the new regime, casting doubt on the validity of 2.6m existing claimants deemed unfit for work.
According to data seen by several welfare industry figures, up to 90 per cent of applicants are being judged able to work in some regions and placed on unemployment rolls rather than long-term ill-health benefits. A three-year programme starting in 2010 will subject 2.6 million incapacity benefit claimants to the new work capability assessment. If we assume that a more conservative 80% of those will fail the test, then there will be an extra 2.1 million job seekers on the unemployment registers.
The theory is that this will force at least some of them into work. The reality is that with 2.1 million on job seekers allowance and many others "economically inactive", adding the halt and the lame to the ranks of the unemployed won't affect levels of employment.