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Work Programme failing people with long-term conditions

The Department for Work and Pensions has this morning (27 June) released the latest set of Work Programme official statistics.

Professor Stephen Bevan, a director at The Work Foundation and Chair of the Fit for Work Coalition said:

“The Work Programme is failing people with long-term conditions. The figures show that people claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – the main unemployment benefit for people with disabilities and long-term conditions – are attaining much lower outcomes than other groups on the Work Programme.”

“In its second financial year, the performance level for the ESA new customers Payment Group was only 5.3%. This figure is way below the projected 16.5% Minimum Performance Level expected for the ESA group. In contrast, the figures for the two other categories on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) were 31.9% for those aged 18 to 24 and 27.3% for those ages 25 and over.

“This is an area the government cannot afford to ignore. Musculoskeletal health problems cause 7.5 million days lost due to work-related ill health each year and rheumatoid arthritis alone costs the economy £1.8 billion a year in sick leave and work related disability. The government needs to ensure that Work Programme providers are giving people in the ESA group the specialised support that they need.”

He added:

“We know from research that people with the conditions face significant barriers to remaining in work; within three years of diagnosis, half of people with rheumatoid arthritis are registered as work disabled.

“But the DWP and Work Programme providers cannot succeed in isolation. NHS England must urgently address the issue of supporting people to remain in work, as highlighted by the Chancellor yesterday. Despite the government’s commitment to helping people with long-term conditions get back into work, GPs and other health care professionals are not incentivised to take work into account when designing services. This needs to change as a matter of urgency.”


Note to editors

1.    Professor Stephen Bevan is available for interviews, briefings and written comment.
2.    The Work Foundation aims to be the leading independent, international authority on work and its future. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster University – an alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.
3.    Fit for Work UK is a campaigning coalition established in 2011 with the aim to shift the treatment and care of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from being disabling conditions to manageable conditions.
4.    The full Work Programme statistical summary June 2013 can be found here – Link
5.    The working status of people is cited in Verstappen, S.M.M., Katson, W.D., Lunt, M., McGrother, K., Symmons, D.P.M. (2010). Working status in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis: results from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register. Rheumatology, 49(8), 1570–1577.
6.    Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health, 10.4 and 7.5 million days respectively
7.    We estimate that the Rheumatoid arthritis costs the NHS around £560 million a year in healthcare costs  with the majority of this in the acute sector. The additional cost to the economy of sick leave and work-related disability is £1.8 billion a year. National Audit Office, Services for people with rheumatoid arthritis, July 2009  – Link


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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013 at 14:00 and is filed under MSDs, Policy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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