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More than half a million more out of work due to long-term sickness than before pandemic

MORE than half a million more people are out of work due to long-term sickness than before the pandemic, new research suggests.

And three out of five of those who are classed as “economically inactive” due to long-term sickness are aged 50 or over, according to a report by Rest Less.

The group, which offers advice and support to older people, said there were 1.6 million over-50s out of work due to long-term sickness, a 20 per cent rise in the three years from 2019 and 2022.

Rest Less’s analysis, based on official data, showed that for 50 to 64-year-olds, the main reason for economic inactivity was long-term sickness or disability, followed by retirement and then looking after family.

Stuart Lewis, chief executive of Rest Less, said: “A rise in long-term ill health has significantly reduced the size of the UK’s potential workforce among all ages since the pandemic, but it is a particularly large driver of the reduction in available workers in their 50s and 60s.

“Of the 2.8 million people out of work due to long-term sickness, nearly 60 per cent are aged over 50.

“Not only is this a national health issue with thousands of people suffering silently but it’s increasingly an economic issue too — not least because many of these people want to work in some capacity if the right opportunities were available to them.”

Kim Chaplain of the Centre for Ageing Better said the stats show long-term sickness was part of the challenge that the government needed to find solutions to.

The Department for Work & Pensions said it was investing an extra £22 million in employment support for people aged 50 and over.

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