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David Finch, Assistant Director at the Health Foundation, said:

'Helping to keep people in good work and health for longer is an important part of supporting a thriving working-age population. Key to this is getting support to people quickly as their health starts to affect their ability to work. However, reforms to fit notes, as outlined in the Prime Minister’s speech today, won’t help the 2.8 million people currently out of work due to their long-term health conditions. Moreover, our recent research projects that 700,000 more workers are going to be living with major illness by 2040. This growth in illness will have a significant impact on our labour market and economy if left unchecked. 

'The deteriorating health of the working-age population and increasing numbers of people with ill health out of the labour market reflect a historic failure in policy. Recent efforts, such as today’s confirmed changes to the work capability assessment, have been too focused on cutting financial support provided through the benefits system rather than helping people back into work or to improve their health. This is counterproductive and risks worsening people's health by leaving them with insufficient income. There is a risk that announced reforms to Personal Independence Payments follow the same route.

'The rising prevalence of mental health conditions predates the pandemic. It has affected all age groups across the working age population – but particularly young people, where prevalence has risen fastest. Mental health services are understaffed and under strain, but our mental health is affected by various factors, including household income, good work and secure housing. For government reforms to be truly effective, they must be part of a comprehensive strategy that tackles the root causes of ill health among the working population.'

Notes to editors

Media Contact
Billie Morgan
020 7257 8000
0790 8637 666

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