Published June 1999
This paper attempts to clarify the significance of reforms to disability benefits proposed by the New Labour government in 1998, by setting them in the context of the development of disability benefits in the early 1970s. The first two sections chart the creation, extension and subsequent reforms of disability benefits. Hypothetical case studies are then used to illustrate the changing balance between different kind of benefit for disabled people. The paper concludes that, in accordance with the guiding principle of welfare reform, 'work for those who can and security for those who cannot', the government's reforms are designed to reward paid employment, while offering relatively generous provision for those who are obviously unable to work. The question raised is the extent to which altered incentives will be sufficiently powerful to eliminate the category in-between-those who are deemed capable of work but who do not have a job - or whether large numbers of disabled people will fall between the stools of 'work' and 'security'.