If you’re young, old, sick, disabled or unemployed, the State benefits you receive will soon be changing.
But despite the UK Government's claims that these changes will result in a fairer system which will get more people back to work, new research suggests the cost to claimants in Wales could eventually reach a billion pounds a year.
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 that they would be under the current system.” - Guto Bebb MP
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