Record long-term sickness could harm economy

The UK's economic growth is being hindered by a rising number of people unable to work due to long-term illness, exacerbated by factors like long Covid, NHS treatment delays and workplace issues.

Last week's data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed over 2.8 million individuals are inactive due to long-term sickness - an increase of 200,000 in the past year and 700,000 since the pandemic's onset in 2020.

This data contributes to a 700,000 reduction in the workforce from pre-Covid levels, impacting the tight labour market and the stagnant economy.

The Government faces pressure to address the issue, focusing on illness prevention and tailored back-to-work programs. While inactivity due to ill health garners attention, many with health problems remain employed, emphasising the need for flexible work arrangements and increased investment in occupational health.

A study by the Institute for Public Policy Research found cardiovascular disease has a significant impact on job exits. Policymakers and employers are urged to break down barriers for those with health issues, addressing workplace stress and heavy workloads to sustain economic growth.

Jon Boys, senior research economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said:

"It is all very well getting people back into work, but the bigger issue is not allowing them to fall out of it in the first place."

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