A research report from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University reveals the likely impact of current reforms to incapacity benefits.
The report shows that the headline total of 2.6m men and women on incapacity benefits is set to be cut by nearly 1m by 2014. Most of these will be existing claimants who will lose their entitlement.
It finds that the reforms are likely to push 600,000 people out of the benefits system altogether, forcing them to fall back on other household members for support.
The report estimates the impact of reforms for every district in the country, saying:
'The highly skewed distribution of incapacity claimants across the country means that the older industrial areas of the North, Scotland and Wales, in particular, will be most affected by the reforms. The reforms will impact barely at all on the most prosperous parts of southern England.'
Professor Steve Fothergill, who co-authored the report, said, "The large numbers that will be pushed off incapacity benefits over the next two to three years are entirely the result of changes in benefit rules - the introduction of a new tougher medical test and, in particular, the more widespread application of means-testing from next April onwards."
"The reduction does not mean that there is currently widespread fraud, or that the health problems and disabilities are anything less than real."