The Sun - Stress Epidemic

Thursday, 1 February, 2007

NEARLY 700,000 people pocket sickness handouts because of stress, eating disorders or booze addiction every week.

The number of people being paid not to work because of stress has rocketed a staggering 192 per cent under Labour.

Shock figures released last night show there has also been a 129 per cent surge in the numbers on incapacity benefit due to eating disorders.

And there have been whopping increases in the numbers claiming the handout due to alcoholism or drug dependency.

All say they can't work due to depression, mood disorders and other problems with anxiety. Shadow welfare minister David Ruffley said: "There have been huge rises in the numbers with almost all forms of mental or behavioural disorders."

The number getting state handouts for severe stress has risen from 16,700 to 49,160 since 1997. There are 1,830 signed off with eating disorders, up from just 800.

There was a 79 per cent rise in those claiming benefit for booze addiction or drug abuse -from 76,200 in 1997 to 136,700 now -while the numbers getting state cash for depression has grown by 82 per cent, from 275,100 to 501,520.

The figures will send alarm bells through the Treasury and John Hutton's Work and Pensions Department. Furious Chancellor Gordon Brown will want answers from Mr Hutton.

More than a million people are on incapacity benefit due to mental health reasons.

They each get Pounds 78.50 a week, Pounds 20 more than they would on Jobseekers' Allowance, trying to find work. Incapacity benefit paid to 2.7million people costs Pounds 12billion a year.