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Britain’s benefits bill to jump by £20bn as long-term sickness soars

welfare bill
welfare bill

Surging sickness benefit claims will drive an increase in Britain’s welfare bill of more than £20bn a year by 2030, new analysis shows, as the country grapples with a worklessness crisis.

The Resolution Foundation said the nation’s worsening health and a rise in pension payments would lead to a significant increase in welfare spending.

In total, more than 90p of every extra £1 spent on benefits will go towards either the state pension or disability and incapacity claims.

The Resolution Foundation said Britain’s ageing population and a commitment by both the Tories and Labour to keep the triple lock on pensions will increase the welfare bill by £9.5bn in real terms between 2024-25 and 2028-29.


Spending on non-pensioner disability and incapacity benefits is forecast to increase by £9.7bn in real terms over the same period, according to the Foundation, whose former chief executive Torsten Bell is running to be a Labour MP.

It came as official figures showed Britain’s economy flatlined in April as the country continues to battle with a worklessness crisis. Almost a quarter of all working age adults are now classed as inactive, the Office for National Statistics said earlier this week.

The Resolution Foundation noted that the number of people claiming health-related benefits has now climbed above 10 million for the first time, up from 7.4 million when the Tories took power in 2010.

While some of these claimants are in employment, a record 2.8 million adults are now out of the jobs market because of long-term health conditions.

The Foundation expects the number of people claiming disability and incapacity benefits to “continue on an upward trend”.

Average payments are also set to increase as the number of people suffering with multiple conditions becomes more common.

The overall benefits bill is forecast to rise from £306bn in 2024-25 to £326bn in 2028-29, the Resolution Foundation said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to slash welfare spending by £12bn a year by the end of the next parliament if the Tories win the July 4 election. He has said he will do this by ensuring more working age people who are currently claiming benefits have a job.

The Foundation said the savings were likely to be “extremely challenging to implement”, though Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has highlighted that George Osborne, the former Chancellor, was successful in slashing the welfare bill in the 2010s.

Official forecasts by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show the number of people claiming the state pension is on course to increase by a further half a million by the end of the decade to 13.2 million people.

It came as a separate study warned that “quiet quitting” was costing the economy billions. A Gallup survey found just one in 10 UK workers were “engaged” at work, meaning they put in extra effort at their jobs.

Engagement at work has fallen steadily over the last decade, with British workers now less interested than the average employee elsewhere in the G7.

It comes amid a rise in what has been dubbed “quiet quitting”, where workers, particularly younger ones, refuse to go above and beyond and instead do the bare minimum. The phrase gained currency on TikTok where videos on the topic have attracted millions of views.