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More stressed, depressed on sickness benefit

Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

09 January 2008

More stressed, depressed on sickness benefit

The number of people collecting the sickness benefit for depression has increased by an astonishing 231% since 2002, says National's Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

"There are now more than 7,500 people on the sickness benefit due to depression, as opposed to 2,300 in 2002, and the number of people on the sickness benefit for stress isn't much better (5,817).

"The number of people on the invalid benefit for depression also makes for sorry reading. That figure has increased by 65% to 4,165 in just five years.

"These figures are a real worry, particularly when we know that around half of the people on the sickness benefit have been on it for at least a year even though the sickness benefit is meant to be for short-term illness.

"The longer people are on benefits the more likely they are to lose the basic confidence they need to participate in the work place. This is a vicious circle and particularly damaging for people who are already stressed and depressed.

"Labour is letting far too many stressed and depressed people languish on the sickness and invalid benefits, particularly the sickness benefit which has only ever been designed as a short-term solution.

"These people need to be steered in the right direction rather than being tossed into the 'too hard basket'.

"The Government also needs to conduct more regular assessments to evaluate their needs and capabilities, and provide more pro-active assistance to get them into work.

"That, though, is obviously another thing Labour's relegated to the 'too hard basket'."

ENDS

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