More than 12,000 people claiming incapacity benefit in Bradford will be forced to prove they cannot work under Government plans to scrap the benefit by 2014.

The move is part of a cost-cutting measure which will see those who are genuinely ill switched to other benefits. Those able to work will be transferred to Job Seekers Allowance, to save the taxpayer money.

Work secretary Iain Duncan Smith estimates about 40 per cent of the country’s 2.6 million claimants will reach retirement age by 2014, leaving 1.5 million facing tough new testing.

An estimated 12,438 claimants in Bradford – the equivalent of 60 per cent of the total – will be forced to undergo tough medical tests from March to make sure they are not faking their illnesses.

The Government says it is determined that every single UK claimant of IB – currently worth £91 per week to long-term recipients – should be re-assessed, at a rate of 10,000 a week.

Those who pass a Work Capability Assessment will be shifted on to the tougher Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which all new claimants have received since its introduction by Labour as a replacement to IB, in 2008.

While the sickest recipients of ESA receive a higher rate, of £96 per week, the majority who are judged to be less seriously ill receive the same weekly payments as IB claimants – but only if they agree to take part in work focused interviews and submit themselves to regular re-assessments.

Those who fail the test completely are moved on to the lower JSA, worth £65 per week.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “I intend to move 1.5 million off incapacity benefit by 2014. We will do everything to help people back into work, to have retraining and help with interviews.

“But in the end we expect people who can work to take the jobs that are offered to them. If they don’t their benefits will be cut incrementally.”

Bradford West MP Marsha Singh said: “I have concerns about this, I have had and have got cases on going with my constituents who are genuinely unable to work fearing they will lose their payments as IB is being cut by people who do not know what conditions they have.

“If people are playing the game and can work then that is different but when people are genuinely unable to work I want to see a system in place that can genuinely assess them.”