Tories Are ‘Failing A Generation' As Long-Term Sick Soars Among Young Workers

A record 2.5 million people are unable to work because of long-term sickness.
A record 2.5 million people are unable to work because of long-term sickness.

A record 2.5 million people are unable to work because of long-term sickness.

The Tories have been accused of “failing a generation” after figures revealed the number of young people unable to work due to long-term sickness has soared.

New statistics show a staggering increase in long-term sickness among those aged between 16 and 34.

There has been a 42 per cent rise in withdrawals from the labour market for those aged 25 to 34, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Meanwhile, there was a 29 per cent increase in workers aged 16 to 24 deemed “economically inactive” due to long-term sickness.

Labour's Alison McGovern said: “There is absolutely no excuse for how badly the Tories are failing a generation of young people.
Labour's Alison McGovern said: “There is absolutely no excuse for how badly the Tories are failing a generation of young people.

Labour's Alison McGovern said: “There is absolutely no excuse for how badly the Tories are failing a generation of young people."

It comes as a record 2.5 million people are unable to work because of long-term sickness.

While older people still make up the majority of those, the largest relative increases in recent years have been among those aged 25 to 34 years.

Labour’s shadow minister for employment Alison McGovern described the figures as “extremely alarming”.

“Something is seriously wrong if we can’t keep our young people healthy,” she told HuffPost UK.

“NHS waiting lists are too long, the Kickstart scheme was a dud and Jobcentres are unfit for purpose.

“Labour will guarantee access to mental health treatment within a month, reform Jobcentres and get everyone the employment support they deserve.

“There is absolutely no excuse for how badly the Tories are failing a generation of young people. British young people deserve a Labour government.”

Change in economic inactivity owing to long-term sickness, by age group, UK, 2019 to 2022:

The ONS said the increase for the younger age group had become more pronounced since the start of the pandemic.

Among those aged 16 to 34 years, the greatest type of overall increase in long-term sickness was for mental illness, phobias and nervous disorders, which rose by around 20,000 - a 24 per cent increase.

The second largest increase was for progressive illnesses such as cancer, which rose by around 14,000 - a 69 per cent increase.

Those aged 16 to 34 years were also the only age group to see an increase in depression, bad nerves or anxiety.

The number of people out of the labour market because of long-term sickness has been rising in recent years

It is the first time more than 2.5 million people have been unable to work due to long-term sickness since records began in 1993, according to the ONS.

This rise in long-term sickness started before the Covid-19 pandemic, but since the pandemic hit the number has risen by 363,000.

The ONS pointed to factors including NHS waiting times, long Covid, and the ageing workforce.

ONS director of labour and economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “The proportion of people neither working nor looking for work has risen again.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, this shift has largely been caused by older workers leaving the labour market altogether, but in the most recent quarter the main contribution has actually come from younger groups.”

Andrew Phillips, researcher at Demos think tank, added: “Today’s figures highlight in no uncertain terms the damage being done to the UK economy as a result of continued labour shortages.”

A spokesperson for the department of work and pensions said: “We are focused on tackling unemployment among young adults, including by providing tailored help for young people through our ‘Youth Offer’.

“This is wrap-around support over a 13-week youth employment programme, delivered through over 190 Jobcentres and 159 youth hubs across the country.

“There is also a strong safety net for people with a long-term illness and disability and over the next three years, the government will invest £1.3 billion in employment support for those affected to help more people start, stay and succeed in work.”

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