New analysis by Legal & General, using Department for Work and Pensions statistics, has shown that over one million people are claiming benefits because of mental and behavioural disorders, an increase of more than 25% from ten years earlier.

Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) and Incapacity Benefit (IB) are the government’s sickness benefits that are paid to people who cannot work because of ill-health or disability.

In February 2012, 1,031,700 people were claiming ESA or Incapacity Benefit because of mental and behavioural disorders, an increase of over 200,000 since February 2002 when there were 824,110 claimants. Of this number:

  • 158,370 claimants are aged between 45-49, an increase of over 50% compared to 2002.
  • 82,790 claimants are aged between 18-24, an increase of nearly 30% since 2002.
  • The largest percentage increase (62.65%) was in the +60 age-group.

The analysis has been conducted at a time when the government is reviewing the way it handles absence in the workplace. ‘Health at work- an independent review of sickness absence’, by Dame Carol Black and David Frost CBE, was presented to Parliament in November 2011.

Commenting on the analysis, Diane Buckley, Managing Director of Legal & General Group Protection, said:

“The fact that there are more than one million individuals claiming sickness benefits for mental and behavioural disorders is concerning. These figures show how important it is for employers to provide good quality support for people in the workplace.

“Our own internal data has shown that the largest cause of Group Income Protection claims across the financial services sector is for mental health problems. Increasing pressures in the workplace such as changes in regulation and trying to deliver more for less, are all taking their toll.”