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Assessing the evidence base on health, employability and the labour market - lessons for activation in the UK

Lindsay, Colin and Greve, Bent and Cabras, Ignazio and Ellison, Nick and Kellett, Stephen (2015) Assessing the evidence base on health, employability and the labour market - lessons for activation in the UK. In: New Perspectives on Health, Disability, Welfare and the Labour Market. Broadening Perspectives in Social Policy . John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK, pp. 5-23. ISBN 9781119145516

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Despite recent attempts by UK policymakers to restrict access to incapacity and disability benefits (DBs), claimant numbers remain high by historical comparison. This article aims to offer direction on more productive foci for welfare reform and activation policies. It reviews the latest evidence on the ‘nature of the problem’ (i.e. the factors contributing to high levels of DBs among some groups and communities); analyzes the appropriateness of current and recent policies in responding to these factors; and contrasts the UK's approach with that of Denmark. The chapter presents details of the structured literature and evidence review that identified the most robust evidence from both academic sources and policy stakeholders. The review confirms a disconnect between the evidence on the nature of the DBs ‘problem’ and an increasingly narrow and behaviourist policy agenda implemented under successive UK governments. It also reveals that alternative policy approaches are possible.