In a startling revelation, a recent report has indicated that a significant portion of Britain’s young population is grappling with health issues severe enough to limit their full-time work capabilities. According to the analysis, conducted by the Health Foundation think tank using data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), one in ten individuals aged between 16 and 34 are afflicted by long-term health conditions that impede their ability to engage in full-time employment.
This alarming statistic highlights a worrying trend: a two-fold increase in young workers reporting long-term illnesses over the past decade, from approximately 550,000 to over 1.1 million. Mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and panic disorders, are the predominant causes, accounting for 40% of these cases. This shift mirrors a broader societal challenge where mental health issues are becoming increasingly prevalent, particularly among the younger demographic.
The Health Foundation’s report categorizes a “work-limiting health condition” as a chronic illness lasting over a year, affecting the type or quantity of paid work an individual can perform. This spectrum encompasses physical disabilities, learning disabilities, heart problems, and other chronic or progressive illnesses.
Remarkably, the under-35 age group is now as likely to suffer from a work-limiting condition as those aged between 35 and 44. This trend is significant, given that older workers have traditionally been more prone to chronic conditions. The total number of workers reporting an illness has risen by 1.4 million, reaching 3.7 million.
Among the youngest workers, mental health issues have tripled since 2013, overshadowing other health concerns like musculoskeletal conditions. The report underscores the gravity of this situation, with Dr. Jennifer Dixon, the chief executive of the Health Foundation, labelling it a “significant problem.” The repercussions extend beyond the individual, affecting families, the economy, productivity, and placing a considerable burden on public services and employers.
Further complicating matters is the earnings gap highlighted in the analysis. Those working part-time due to health conditions earn an average of £2.50 less per hour than their full-time counterparts. This disparity has broader implications for economic inequality and social welfare.
This revelation comes amidst policy discussions led by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, focusing on the unemployment benefits system and its relation to health-related work incapacity. The report indicates that approximately 2.6 million people are unemployed due to health conditions, a number that has surged by nearly 25% since the pandemic.
The Workers Union Says…
“In conclusion, this report sheds light on a critical and growing challenge within the UK’s workforce. Addressing these health concerns, particularly mental health issues among the youth, is imperative for the nation’s economic and social well-being.”