Unemployed almost twice as likely to suffer from ill health than those with a job, official figures suggest

A study by the Office for National Statistics showed a link between ill health and unemployment

Unemployed people are almost twice as likely as those in employment to have a limiting long-standing illness or disability (LSI), official figures suggest.

People with higher incomes are also more likely to be in better health than those on lower incomes, according to the figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The “Adult Health in Great Britain” study, carried out in 2012 but published on Tuesday, found that 17 per cent of unemployed people (those not working but looking for work) had a limiting LSI, compared to just nine per cent of those in employment.

Just six per cent of people with an income of £50,000 or more had a debilitating illness, compared to 30 per cent of those with an income of up to £10,000.

Rachel Neuer, programme manager at The Springboard Charity, said the findings support what they have found through their work with the unemployed.

“We have come across people who have become disenchanted, demotivated and are often depressed, purely due to being out of work and having the perception that there is nothing out there for them and a lack of opportunities.

“Once they have secured employment then they usually find they have their confidence back and this has a ripple effect on the rest of their lives; they feel they are making a contribution and are able to structure their time and get away from economic inactivity.”

The ONS report also suggested that ethnicity had an impact on the prevalence of limiting LSIs, with white people almost twice as likely to be affected as non-white people - 20 per cent compared with 11 per cent.

As expected, health was strongly associated with age. 67 per cent of those aged 75 and over had an LSI, compared with 14 per cent of those aged 16 to 24.

And smokers and ex-smokers were also more likely to have a limiting LSI that those who had never smoked. 

Overall in 2012, 34 per cent of adults living in Great Britain classed themselves as having an LSI and 19 per cent said they had a limiting LSI. These figures have remained relatively consistent since 2005.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We have introduced legal duties which make sure that health inequalities are always taken into account when NHS services are planned and provided for. We have protected the overall health budget for NHS England and in turn they have agreed to take into account health inequalities when allocating funding to local areas.

“In addition, local authorities have been given a £5.4 billion budget over two years to help tackle public health issues such as smoking and obesity, and are required to take account of inequalities in the way this money is spent. It is vital that they make sure services are available to support people in their local area to live more healthily.”

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