Government must focus on de-risking return to work for long-term sick

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“The Prime Minister is right that more action to support those who want to work is badly needed. Over 700,000 more people have become economically inactive due to long-term sickness since the pandemic began, and without substantive action that number may rise further.

“But making it harder for people to access health related benefits, and pushing people who are managing physical and mental health conditions into taking ‘any job’ with threats of closing their benefit claims altogether will heighten the pressures faced by those people and may make their condition worse.

“Instead, the focus should be on de-risking returning to work for those with long-term health conditions, and critically, on stemming the flow of people who are leaving work due to sickness.

“That means making big improvements to the quality of work on offer so that they can find sustainable employment. The Government has failed in its promise to deliver an Employment Bill this Parliament, leaving 6.8 million people in severely insecure jobs which can have a negative impact on individuals’ health and mean they cycle in and out of work and remain dependent on Universal Credit. Addressing this must be a priority in the next Parliament.

“We also have to ensure that job flexibility is a day one right so that those with health conditions can have confidence they can agree arrangements that work for them when applying for roles. And we must strengthen statutory sick pay, so that those with fluctuating conditions can sustain employment over the long-term.”

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