Surge in number of people claiming Universal Credit due to ill health

Mike Amesbury outside Jobcentre in Runcorn <i>(Image: Mike Amesbury)</i>
Mike Amesbury outside Jobcentre in Runcorn (Image: Mike Amesbury)

A RISING number of people are claiming Universal Credit due to ill health.

New research by the Labour Party has revealed that 23 per cent more people in Weaver Vale constituency claimed Universal Credit for health reasons over the past year.

There were 554 more claimants in December 2023 than in the same month the previous year.

This increase is replicated in all 632 parliamentary constituencies, with new figures highlighting mental health a key driver behind the rise.

Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury said: “A healthy nation is critical to a healthy economy but the Tories have failed on both – and we’re all paying the price, as indicated by these troubling statistics.

“I know from speaking to residents about the numbers stuck on NHS and mental health waiting lists or locked out of work due to long-term sickness – at terrible cost to them and to businesses in our community.”

According to the Labour Party, 2,928 people in Weaver Vale claimed Universal Credit health benefits in December 2023.

This is up from 2,374 a year prior.

Nationally, the number is up by 400,000 in a year, with Government statistics revealing more than two-thirds of all claims involve mental health problems.

To combat this, the Government recently announced changes to Universal Credit designed to encourage people with ill health to seek work.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Universal Credit has proven itself as a modern benefits system fit for the future, providing a vital safety net to millions while helping people move into work faster.

“Work is the best path to long-term financial security and through Universal Credit, our £2.5 billion Back to Work Plan will help over a million people – including those with long-term health conditions – find, stay and succeed in work.”

Confirming their own plans to address the rising numbers, the Labour Party says it would look to recruit 8,500 new mental health staff, provide mental health support in all schools and create mental health hubs for children and young people in every community.

There are also plans to introduce changes to incapacity benefits in a bid to encourage disabled people and people with ill health to work without fear of losing their income or having to be reassessed if the job doesn’t work out.