New insights into incapacity benefit in Glasgow
The Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) has found that Glasgow is making progress towards closing the gap in the number of Incapacity Benefit claimants between the city and the rest of Scotland.
The research, commissioned by GCPH and carried out by a team from the University of Glasgow and Glasgow City Council, also reveals however that Glasgow has a particular problem in terms of the absolute size of its Incapacity Benefit (IB) population (61,850 in 2005) and the fact that this population represents about one in six of the working age population (16.4% in 2005).
Dr Ewan Macdonald, Head of the Healthy Working Lives Research Group, explained: “Glasgow has far too many people on IB, with up to 35% of men over 55 years apparently too ill to work. Of all IB, 50% is due to mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Moreover we know that being out of work can make health worse, both for the individual concerned and for their families. The good news is that things are improving, numbers on benefits are reducing, and fewer people are going onto IB now.
“While historically much of the effort has been to get people off benefits, this study shows the importance of reducing the flow onto benefits, and we need to continue to do more to help people stay in healthy and safe jobs.”
Based on data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study, this research shows that the size of the IB population in Glasgow is declining mainly because the number of individuals moving onto IB (the ‘on flow’) has been reduced. The on flow rate remains higher in Glasgow than Scotland however the rate in Glasgow has fallen by 21% while in Scotland the rate has fallen by 16% since 2000.
Mental health problems account for 50% of those claiming IB in Glasgow and the majority of claimants have been receiving IB for greater than five years. The absolute number of claimants moving off IB (the ‘off flow’) has remained relatively constant however the rate of off flow has increased. Although Glasgow still has lower off flow rates, some progress has been made towards closing the gap with the rest of Scotland.
Mick Rodgers, Economics and Social Initiatives Manager at Glasgow City Council said: “Glasgow has relatively more people on health related benefits than any other city in the UK. We know that some of these people, about 35-40%, could work given the right type of job and the right type of support. However, we do not yet fully understand all of the problems and barriers that prevent these people from taking up employment. Anything which helps us to better understand this group is therefore to be strongly welcomed.
“Through the Glasgow City Strategy Consortium far reaching efforts are currently underway to rationalise and streamline the delivery of employability services to all of the City’s workless people. This research is vital as it will eventually help us to better understand our client group – and when the further stages are completed – will help us to tailor our employability support services to more effectively meet the individual needs of those people on health related benefits who want to work. This is why this research is so important.”
Prof Carol Tannahill, Director of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health commented: “There are close and complex relationships between health and work. This is the first stage of a study to investigate the interaction between health status, the labour market and policy interventions. The findings have important implications for the city’s strategy to support people into work and to sustain employment.”
For more information, to arrange an interview, or to request a copy of the full report and appendices please contact:
Valerie Millar, Communications Manager, Glasgow Centre for Population Health
Tel: 0141 221 9439
This work was undertaken by the working group:
• Dr Judith Brown, Research Assistant, Healthy Working Lives Research Group,
• University of Glasgow
• Professor Phil Hanlon, Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow
• David Webster, Housing Strategy Manager, Glasgow City Council
• Professor Ivan Turok, Professor of Urban Economic Development, University
• of Glasgow,
• James Arnott, Senior Policy Development Officer, Glasgow City Council
• Dr Ewan Macdonald, Head of Healthy Working Lives Research Group,
• University of Glasgow.
Available for interview
• Dr Ewan Macdonald, Head of Healthy Working Lives Research Group, University of Glasgow.
• Dr Judith Brown, Research Assistant, Healthy Working Lives Research Group, University of Glasgow.
• Prof Ivan Turok, Professor of Urban Economic Development, University of Glasgow.
The Glasgow Centre for Population Health (www.gcph.co.uk) is a research and development organisation set up in 2004 as part of the Scottish Executive’s programme to tackle health inequalities in Scotland. The Centre is a partnership between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow City Council and the University of Glasgow, supported by the Scottish Executive.
The Healthy Working Lives Research Group (www.gla.ac.uk/hwlresearchgroup) was established by Dr Ewan Macdonald in 1990 and is located within the Public Health and Health Policy Section of the University of Glasgow. The purpose of the group is to improve the wellbeing, maximise the potential and reduce health inequalities of the working age population through cutting-edge, policy informing research.
Details of the research
The ‘on flow’ refers to those starting to claim IB and the ‘off flow’ refers to those whose claim has terminated.
The research is based on quarterly 100% sample data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Information Directorate Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.
First published: 28 August 2007