Incapacity Benefit Claimants in UK Cite Tiredness and Gout as Reasons

by Gopalan on Nov 19 2007 11:00 AM

People in the UK cite tiredness, gout and acne as key reasons for being unable to work and seeking government doles.

According to a Department of Work and Pensions(DWP) document disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, people of working age mention 480 different problems for their unemployability.

The incapacity benefits are estimated to cost the government £7.5bn annually.

Thus far it had been believed that a huge proportion of them actually suffer from mental illnesses and alcoholism.

The revelations could make ministers looking at ways of cutting the budget to intensify their efforts further.

They are trying to persuade private sector contractors to help incapacity benefit claimants find work. They also want to change the focus of the medical assessment for incapacity benefit towards concentrating on seeing what work could be done by someone who has an illness.

The DWP list shows almost 2,000 claimants recorded as suffering from obesity claiming £4.4m, another 1,100 with sleep disorders, and 50 with the skin disorder acne - who collected around £100,000.

Another 50,000 claimants receive £122m in payments for stress, 15,600 cannot work because of what is described as 'malaise and fatigue', while another 8,100 suffer from dizziness and giddiness. Another 4,000 claimants have headaches, and 2,700 have migraines. Haemorrhoids is cited by 380 people. About 500,000 people are unable to work because they have depression.

Some £600m went in payments to nearly 250,000 people diagnosed with differing forms of stress related illness.

A total of 50,000 people who are alcoholics were paid a total of £85m due to their inability to work, while 48,000 drug abusers received payments totalling £45m.

Gout prevented nearly 3,000 people from working, and they received payments of £8m. Some 200 men claimed incapacity benefit due to swollen testicles and another 100 for testicular cysts.

Some 1,900 had eating disorders and accounted for £4m in payments, while a similar number also received £4m due to being incapacitated due to obesity.

As well as medical checks by a GP, the work and pensions secretary Peter Hain said rigorous checks were made before someone was paid incapacity benefits. 'No one is entitled to incapacity benefit automatically on the basis of a diagnosis,' he told the Times. 'Currently, there are many people sitting at home in the belief they are unemployable because they do not think their illness or medical conditions can be catered for in the workplace, but this is just not the case.

'Many people with such conditions are able to take up successful careers, if the right support is in place. That is why we are changing the system to focus on what people can do, not what they can't.'

Incapacity benefits payments range between £61.35 and £81.35 per week, depending on age and how long the recipient has been off work.