Off benefits and back into work

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A WELFARE ‘revolution’ will see a Bury St Edmunds company play a major role in getting people off benefits and back to work, an MP has said.

From next month, RehabWorks, on Angel Hill, will start to see people,currently signed off work with muscular, skeletal or mental health problems and help them get fit to work again.

Nationally, there are five million people of working age who are unemployed and on benefits. About half are on incapacity benefit and it is believed that one million of those could be helped back into part or full time work.

Bury MP David Ruffley wrote much of the policy now being introduced when he was shadow minister for welfare reform five years ago and on Friday he visited RehabWorks to discuss the changes, which will work on a payment by results basis and are modelled on other countries like Australia, the US and Israel.

“If we can get someone back to work then not only do we save on benefits, he has a job and is paying tax and National Insurance and is probably a spending more. The Government will give firms like RehabWorks a share of the benefit savings that accrue when a person is off benefits and in work. It is a brilliant system.”

He said changes to benefits currently being devised should bring the end to people receiving more money on benefits than they could earn by working.

“Any job should be better than no job at all. The problem with benefits is that it encourages choosiness,” Mr Ruffley said.

“It is a welfare revolution and I’m glad to see a home grown local business expanding and playing a key part in this change.”

RehabWorks emerged out of a back room physio launched in 1987. It already works with big companies to get the long term sick back to work and recently gained contracts with Private Medical Insurers. It has been awarded nearly two thirds of the contracts up and down the country – one of them is for the entire East of England.

It works with 19 centres throughout the UK and a call centre in Bury and is set to double its 80 staff over the next few years.

Chief executive Lutgen Terblanche said it had already had a good record of getting people fit for work. “We get some fantastic results. It can be very demanding but its also very empowering. It is amazing,” he said.