The welfare system is on the verge of its biggest shake-up in 60 years, as the UK Government introduces what they refer to as a fairer system, which will get more people back to work. But with new research suggesting the cost to claimants in Wales could eventually reach a billion pounds a year, many have raised questions about this so called, 'fairer system'.
In this programme, Wales This Week speaks to those who will be affected by these changes.
Martin Oxborrow was a pilot with the RAF for 21 years. In 1997 he was discharged from the air force on medical grounds. He suffered from phobic anxiety disorder and was told he would not be able to work.
He now lives in Llandysul in West Wales. He still suffers from anxiety and depression.
“I have good days and bad days - I’m on the maximum dose of anti-depressants , I’m on some antipsychotic drugs to help and basically I have had an independent assessment that says I have treatment resistant depression" - Martin Oxborrow
Martin’s been claiming incapacity benefit for the past fifteen years and while he has always searched for work, his condition has restricted his ability even to attend an interview. Despite that, after an assessment in November, he was told that he was deemed capable of working again.
People suffering from long term illness used to be eligible for incapacity benefit. But the changes introduced by the UK government mean all claimants are now being reassessed to see if they are capable of work or eligible to claim a new benefit called Employment and Support Allowance.
Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb sat on the committee that drafted the welfare reforms. He believes the changes are crucial to safeguard the economy.
“The welfare reform bill is a huge bill and a significant change which was necessary because I don’t think the welfare system was working. We were spending more and more money on a system that was dysfunctional and I think the system as it stood was penalising people...
"...I think we need to have a welfare system which supports the weakest in society but make sure those people are able to work will be able to take jobs and be better off than they would be under the current system.” - Guto Bebb MP
A report for the Welsh Government estimates that over 48,500 people in Wales have already lost an average of £9 a week as a result of the housing benefit reforms which came into effect in April 2011.
Now, with further reforms being implemented by the UK Government, more questions are being raised about just how much these latest changes will affect us here in Wales.
The charity 'Cuts Watch Cymru', believes that 250,000 people in Wales will be affected by changes to the housing benefit alone.
Despite the figures however, it seems that many of us are unclear about how these changes might affect us, and the reform has met a great deal of criticism for the way that it has been implemented.
To find out more about how these changes will affect you, visit the following website by Community Housing Cymru and RCT Homes](http://www.yourbenefitsarechanging.co.uk/) - Click Here