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Tories “too divided and too incompetent” to get Britain working as 681 more people claiming Universal Credit for ill health in Birmingham Edgbaston


Labour has blasted the Tories as “too divided and too incompetent” to get Britain working, as new analysis reveals the Tory failure to tackle health-related worklessness in Birmingham Edgbaston.


Analysis by the House of Commons library for Labour shows that there has been a rise of 681 people in Birmingham Edgbaston claiming Universal Credit for health reasons over the last year.


Between December 2022 and December 2023, all 632 parliamentary constituencies in Britain saw an increase, with new figures showing that mental ill health is a key driver behind the rise.


A united, mission focused Government is needed to get Britain working. Labour’s plan to help tackle one of the key drivers of worklessness before it takes hold, includes:


·       Bringing down waiting times for mental health treatment by recruiting 8,500 new mental health staff

·       Access to specialist mental health support in every school

·       Mental health hubs for children and young people in every community


Labour has also pledged to:


·       Introduce changes to incapacity benefits to encourage disabled people and people with ill health – who are currently not required to seek work by the benefits system – to try work without fear of losing their income or having to be reassessed if the job doesn’t work out.

·       Overhaul Access to Work, so that people know what equipment, adaptations or personal support they’ll get before they start work – giving them the confidence to take the plunge.

·       Reform job centres and devolving employment support so help is tailored to individual and local need.


In Birmingham Edgbaston, 3,636 people now claim Universal Credit health benefits, with the national number up by 400,000 in a year – and Government statistics show that over two thirds of all claims involve mental health problems.


Preet Kaur Gill has accused the Tories of failing on the economy, because they have failed on work. 2.7 million people, a near record high, are now out of work due to long term sickness; economic inactivity is no longer declining from the post-pandemic high and has instead rebounded to a total of 9.3 million people—the highest in over a decade; and Britain’s employment rate will be lower by the end of this year than forecast in November, and still not back to pre-pandemic levels by 2028- 2029.


Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston and Labour’s Shadow Minister for Public Health and Primary Care said:


“A healthy nation is critical to a healthy economy but the Tories have failed on both – and it is places like Edgbaston paying the price. I know from speaking to residents across my constituency the number who are 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.


“The Tories cannot be the change from their own failings. Labour’s plan will tackle the root causes of worklessness by driving down NHS waiting lists, making work pay, and supporting people into good jobs across every part of the country, including right here in Edgbaston.”



Notes to editors:


In December 2022, 2,955 people were claiming Universal credit for health reasons, in December 2023, 3,636 were claiming, an increase of 681


Labour’s mental health plan is funded by scrapping the carried interest loophole for private equity and the VAT exemption for private schools.


According to the Resolution Foundation, twice as many young people are out of work due to ill-health today than a decade ago, the majority of whom have a mental health disorder.


Labour analysis of new DWP statistics, using StatXplore, shows that the number of people claiming Universal Credit for health reasons increased in every single parliamentary constituency in Britain between December 2022 and December 2023. The number of people claiming Universal Credit for health reasons rose by an average of 600 last year across constituencies.


The same DWP statistics – published earlier this month – found that “2.0 million people were on UC health compared to 1.6 million a year earlier” and “of all WCA decisions in the period January 2022 to November 2023, at least 69% are recorded as having mental and behavioural disorders, albeit this may not be their primary medical condition."

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