Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Report highlights value of work

Media Release


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A paper will be launched in Auckland today by The Royal Australasian College of Physicians entitled, 'Realising the Health Benefits of Work'. According to welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell the report claims that two thirds of sickness absence and long-term incapacity is due to mild and treatable conditions.

"This claim would help to explain why the number of people who rely on a sickness or invalid's benefit has increased dramatically over recent years. Conditions that might not have kept people from work 20 or 30 years ago are now considered grounds for claiming some form of incapacity benefit."

"Post-war the number of people claiming a sickness or invalid benefit remained steady but fell as a percentage of the population (see below). However, since 1980 the numbers have risen steeply. At March 2010 there were over 140,000 people relying on a sickness or invalid benefit accounting for over 5 percent of the working-age population."

Mitchell observed that, "The government's Future Focus reforms, currently before select committee, will legislate changes to eligibility for sickness and invalid benefits but their proposals have already been tried in Australia and have failed to stem the growth. In the US some progress has been made with their Supplemental Security Income disability recipients now tracking in line with population growth. The US has introduced the most stringent reforms of NZ, Australia and the UK. It would pay the Welfare Working Group to investigate how this has been achieved."

"Work incapacity is amongst the toughest problems developed countries face and the report released today will highlight why it is vital that dependent individuals receive the assistance they need to return to or take up work."

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