'Minor' conditions causing absence from work
Hundreds of millions of pounds were paid out to benefit claimants for ‘minor’ conditions including piles, headaches, dizziness and malaise, according to figures published today.
A total of £8.7bn was paid in just one year to those claiming Incapacity Benefit and the Employment and Support Allowance. While many benefit recipients had serious conditions such as cancer, £24.2m went to sufferers of “dizziness and giddiness”.
The figures, obtained from the Department for Work and Pensions after a Freedom of Information request, were published in the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.
They suggest that some people were signed off work for “coughs” at a cost of £600,000 while the bill for “malaise and fatigue” was £44.7m. Indigestion resulted in £2.8m of payments.
Around £2m was paid out to people suffering haemorrhoids while those complaining of sleep claimed £3.8m in 2010-11.
Back pain was one of the most common illnesses, with claimants taking home nearly £720m. £215m was paid to people who complained of a “reaction to severe stress”. A further £17m was paid to claimants suffering from “unspecified mood disorders”, while unspecified pain cost taxpayers £245.3m.
More than £139.1m was paid in 2010/11 to 29,000 claimants struggling with alcohol problems, while £79.4m went to nearly 17,000 drug addicts.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling told the newspapers that the figures meant that the government’s welfare reform programme.
He said: “We will no longer tolerate a situation where people can be left stranded on benefits for years without anyone challenging them to see if they could get back to work.”