An undercover investigation by The Sunday Times has shown that Britain’s mounting incapacity benefit bill is being fuelled by jobcentre staff who routinely encourage dole applicants to make claims for sickness when they have only minor ailments.
Reporters who posed as dole applicants were wrongly told they could be eligible for sickness benefit by claiming they suffered mild stress, had girlfriend problems or found it hard to get up in the morning.
The second reporter toured jobcentres in the north of England, saying he had been unemployed for seven months and had just moved to the area. He told a jobcentre in Salford, Greater Manchester, that he needed advice, saying: “I am having a few problems with my girlfriend and a mate of mine said I should look into other types of benefits.”
The adviser immediately suggested he could avoid work “due to personal circumstances” if he obtained a “sick note” from his doctor and claimed incapacity benefit. When the reporter said he was not “really ill”, the adviser said this did not matter.
"See a doctor and get a note and he can give you a note for whatever reason you need one for,” she said.