UK economy stumbles amid rising absenteeism, long-term illness keeps workers away.

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Recent economic data paints a troubling picture for the UK, indicating that the nation’s economic struggles are exacerbated by a growing number of individuals unable to work due to long-term illness. The reasons behind this trend are varied, with factors such as long Covid, NHS treatment delays, workplace practices, stress, and the lingering effects of austerity contributing to the problem.

The economic impact of widespread ill health poses challenges for policymakers, with potential implications for Jeremy Hunt and, if she assumes the role, Rachel Reeves as the first female chancellor. Businesses, already contending with recruitment challenges, find themselves grappling with a workforce impacted by mental health issues, contributing to a rise in absenteeism.

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Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released last week underscore the severity of the issue, revealing that the number of people inactive due to long-term sickness has surged to 2.8 million. This represents an increase of over 200,000 in the past year and 700,000 since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

Employment lawyer Nick Hurley highlights the struggle faced by companies, particularly in sectors with lower wages and skills, where employees, mainly the younger demographic, are increasingly not showing up for work. The surge in mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety, since the pandemic is contributing to record levels of worklessness, ultimately playing a role in the UK slipping into recession, as warned by the ONS.

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