Almost 2,500 people claiming sickness benefits in Bradford have been found fit for work since a controversial new test was introduced.

A Government Minister hailed the results as the ending of a failed system that had “condemned” far too many to a life on benefits.

But a Bradford MP called for changes to the test, warning disabled people were being wrongly judged fit for work in circumstances “beyond belief”.

The clash came after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) released figures after the first 6,330 ‘work capability assessments’ (WCA) in Bradford.

About 3,900 claimants were found either not fit for work, or only able to do so with intensive support over many months – after which their benefits could be removed.

But almost 38 per cent of those tested – 2,430 people – were judged able to work immediately and placed on job seekers’ allowance (JSA) instead, losing at least £25 a week in benefit.

However, the tests are enormously controversial, after growing evidence of seriously disabled people being found fit for work.

Around 40 per cent of appeals are successful and an investigation by MPs criticised Atos Healthcare, the private company carrying out the WCA.

Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour MP for Bradford West, said further changes to the test were badly needed.

He said: “The principle is right – that people who can work, should work – but people with clear disabilities are being tested and found fit for work.

“Some of the cases I have had in my constituency have been beyond belief and we are trying to help those people take their cases to appeal.

“The proof is that the test has already had to be changed a number for times. They need to work more closely with GPs, who have a better understanding of their patients’ needs.”

Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, acknowledged there had been problems with the WCA, which – he pointed out – Labour had introduced.

But he said: “The Paralympics was such a success because it highlighted what people can do – rather than what people can't do.

“The Government is right to copy that approach with regards to work.”

Work Minister Mark Hoban said: “The old system condemned far too many people to a life on sickness benefits, with little help to move back to work. This is a huge waste.”

By next year, about two-thirds of the 19,000 people who were on incapacity benefit (IB) in Bradford are expected to be put through the work test.