This article introduces a special issue of Policy Studies entitled “Fit for work? Health, employability and challenges for the UK welfare reform agenda”. Growing from a shared concern over the need to expand the evidence base around the processes that led to large numbers of people claiming disability benefits in the UK, it brings together contributions from leading labour market and social policy researchers providing evidence and commentary on major reforms to Incapacity Benefit (IB) in the UK. This special issue address three key questions: what are the main causes of the long-term rise in the number of people claiming IBs; what will reduce the number of claimants; and what is likely to deliver policy effectively and efficiently? This introduction first explains and examines the challenges to reforms to IB in the UK, and then, in conclusion, highlights the answers to the previous three questions – first, labour market restructuring and marginalisation have driven the rise in numbers claiming IBs. Second, economic regeneration in the Britain’s less prosperous areas coupled with intensive and sustained supply-side support measures will bring numbers down. Third, delivery need to be flexible and tailored to individual needs and needs to be able to access local and expert knowledge in a range of organisations, including Job Centre Plus, the NHS as well as the private and voluntary sectors.
- welfare reform