294,100 people in the North West are economically inactive due to long-term sickness – and 77,000 of these want a job, according to Labour analysis.
Official statistics show that 26% of people out of the workforce because of sickness want a job in the North West.
Since the pandemic, there has been an especially sharp uptick in economic inactivity amongst workers aged over 50.
Labour research finds that there are 19,600 more 50-64-year-olds in the North West who are economically inactive because of long-term sickness than there were before the pandemic. This amounts to a substantial 13% per cent increase in older people outside the workforce because of ill health.
High levels of sick workers leaving the workforce have come alongside increases in the numbers relying on means-tested disability and health-related benefits in the North West.
Labour analysis shows that there are 50,004 more recipients of means-tested disability and health-related benefits in the North West than there were before the pandemic.
Labour has called on the Government to take urgent action to help [over-50s and] the long-term sick back to work.
In recently announced plans, Labour has committed to transforming Jobcentres and employment support services. Budgets will be devolved to local areas that know their local jobs and skills needs best, and tailored support will be offered to the unemployed and inactive people who want help – with services available to a wider group of people than just those receiving unemployment benefits.
Labour will also look to expand employment programmes targeted at people with ill health, including those delivered via the NHS.
Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:
“These findings show a significant number of people across the North West would be working if only they had the right support. Not only would that help raise their incomes and living standards, it would also help grow our economy.
“Labour has a plan to get Britain working again. We will give more power and flexibility to local areas to run employment support services, and ensure that Jobcentres are open and accessible to all who would benefit from targeted, specialist help as part of our ambition to target the highest employment in the G7.”
Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Manchester Withington, said:
“Everyone deserves proper and help and support to move into work. But after years of Tory negligence, too many aren’t getting the help they need.
“My constituents deserve a Labour government, which will be committed to delivering an employment support system that meets the needs of businesses and workers across Manchester.”