The number of benefit claimants who are not required to look for work increased by 50,000 last month – the largest rise since the start of the pandemic.
More than 2.2million people do not have to find a job under the current rules, raising concerns that Rishi Sunak’s back-to-work drive is not having the desired effect.
It means that more than a third of people claiming Universal Credit have no requirement to work – a group almost as large as the 2.3million who claim the benefit while in work, the Times reported.
The Prime Minister vowed to end ‘the national scandal where our benefits system declares that more than two million people of working age are incapable of doing any’ in his party conference speech this month.
Ministers have announced a drive to get more people back to work and reform the system as concerns grow over the cost of the welfare state.
Rishi Sunak’s back-to-work is not having its desired effect as more than 2.2million people are able to claim benefits without looking for a job under current rules
Before the pandemic in February 2019, 334,968 Universal Credit claimants had no requirement to find work, a fifth of the 1.7million total (Stock Image)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is considering a real-terms benefits cut next year as he attempts to balance the books, as senior Tories become increasingly concerned about the rising cost of the welfare state.
Before the pandemic in February 2019, 334,968 Universal Credit claimants had no requirement to find work, a fifth of the 1.7million total.
The number has been rising since then, with people switching from older benefits thought to account for a fifth of the increase.
Most of the increase is said to be down to long-term sickness, with the number of claimants too ill to work at 1.8million – up by more than 300,000 a year.
Working-age incapacity benefits cost £26billion a year, up 62 per cent in a decade, and the number is projected to rise even further if trends in long-term sickness continue.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘We are taking the long-term decisions to make lasting change and bring people out of inactivity, help them improve their lives and grow the economy.
‘We are investing an extra £2billion to help more people with disabilities and health conditions into work.’