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Turner: Benefit stress figures a cause for stress

Wednesday, 12 May, 2004

Turner: Benefit stress figures a cause for stress

Stress is becoming a major reason why an increasing number of people are unable to work, if recent sickness and invalid benefits figures are anything to go by, United Future's Judy Turner said today.

Mrs Turner has produced figures from the Government to show that the number of people claiming the invalids benefit due to stress increased between 1999 and 2003 by 112% (from 686 to 1457).

"However, perhaps more alarming in terms of raw numbers is the increase in the number of people on the sickness benefit due to stress, from 2891 in 1999 to 5156 last year, a 78% increase.

"The invalids benefit is intended for those with permanent disabilities. Should we accept that the working lives of 1457 people are over due to stress, when four years ago it was less than half that number," she asked.

Last month, Turner revealed that from 1999 to 2003, the number of sickness and invalids beneficiaries had both increased by a third, and that psychological conditions were not only the most common ailment, but also the main driver behind the increase in the total number of beneficiaries.

"It then comes as little surprise to find that stress cases increased as a proportion of the total number of invalids beneficiaries, from 1.3% in 1999 to 2.1% in 2003, and as a proportion of the total number of sickness beneficiaries, from 8.7% in 1999 to 12.1% in 2003," she said.

"The Government's recent announcements offer little by way of a solution.

"Funding medical procedures to assist sickness beneficiaries back into the workforce doesn't help those with psychological conditions - and they are the ones pushing up the numbers.

"The Government must go back and take a hard look at the way in which these people are being assessed, and whether simply sticking them on a benefit is necessarily the best course for them.


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