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Responding to today’s release, Christopher Rocks, Lead Economist for the Health Foundation’s Commission for Healthier Working Lives, said:

‘Ill health is driving the rising number of people on out-of-work benefits, and damaging the economy, so it’s crucial to understand the health challenges faced by people claiming Universal Credit. The new DWP data is a step in the right direction. 

‘From January 2022 to November 2023, the DWP made nearly 1.3 million decisions regarding the work capability of people on Universal Credit. While coverage is incomplete, the new data shows that mental and behavioural disorders are now the most likely medical condition to be recorded (at least 69% of decisions), followed by musculoskeletal issues (48%). 

‘On average, 2.7 types of medical condition were recorded for each person on UC health, reflecting the complex health needs for many in this group.

‘Rather than restricting entitlements to save money, a tailored approach will be key to helping people back into work. This will require more detailed statistics on claimants’ health conditions over time, broken down by demographics at a local level. Such information would enable local areas and employment programme providers to target support effectively, taking better account of health needs. The Health Foundation’s Commission for Healthier Working Lives is actively reviewing evidence to find new and better ways to address our working-age health challenges.’ 

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