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Plans to cut sickness benefits

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British Prime Minister David Cameron with Chancellor George Osborne.

A leaked Whitehall paper suggests plans to scrap part of the UK’s main sickness benefit are being considered.

It describes the Employment and Support Allowance as a “passive” benefit which does not “incentivise” people to find a job, and proposes abolishing the work-related activity group (WRAG) category reporst BBC.

British Prime Minister David Cameron with Chancellor George Osborne.
British Prime Minister David Cameron with Chancellor George Osborne.

If scrapped, weekly payments would drop nearly £30 from £102.15, bringing it in line with Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it did not comment on leaks.

The government is seeking to save £12bn from its welfare bill.

It is expected next week’s Budget will unveil only some of its proposed cuts, with others to be announced in the autumn spending review.

The paper seen by BBC News was written by the Department for Work and Pensions before the general election in May.

It is marked “not government policy”, but the BBC understands the proposals are still under consideration.

About two million people in the UK receive the Employment and Support Allowance, in some form.

It is paid out to disabled or sick people who are unable to work or need help getting back to work.

Currently, people undergo a fit-for-work test to decide how their illness or disability affects their ability to work.

If eligible for the benefit, they are placed in either the WRAG category, and must prepare for employment, or a support group category and are not expected to work.

Those who do not meet the criteria may be given Jobseeker’s Allowance of up to £73.10 a week instead.

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