Rishi Sunak’s Crackdown: Reforming the UK Disability Benefits System

Rishi Sunak’s Crackdown

With over half a million more people not working or seeking work compared to pre-pandemic levels, concerns are mounting about Britain’s economic growth potential amidst a tight labour market. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a crackdown on disability benefits, claiming the system is being too easily exploited. So this week’s tantalising question on the IEA podcast: Where are the missing workers?

Join host Matthew Lesh, Public Policy & Communications Director, and this week’s guest, IEA Editorial & Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton, to unpack this thorny issue. They explore the spike in economic inactivity due to long-term sickness, particularly among younger cohorts. Is there exploitation of the disability benefits system or are there deeper socioeconomic forces at play? The role of mental health, drug abuse, and NHS backlogs in this concerning trend is dissected.

The podcast also examines potential policy solutions – from revamping welfare incentives to boosting productivity through upskilling. With long-running debates around the “deserving” vs “undeserving” poor, Shackleton provides a historical lens on this complex challenge facing policymakers. Tune in for an insightful discussion on a key economic issue.

00:00 – Introduction
00:33 – Rishi Sunak announces crackdown on disability benefits
01:10 – Where are the missing workers? Overview of labour market trends
03:14 – Rise in long-term sickness, especially among younger people
04:47 – Distinguishing genuine health issues from potential exploitation
06:09 – Role of drug use and NHS backlogs
07:19 – Government’s focus on welfare/disability benefit reforms
09:03 – Debates around “deserving” vs “undeserving” poor
11:21 – Historical context on attitudes towards welfare
14:35 – Comparing welfare models internationally
16:08 – Employment protection legislation and labour market flexibility
19:25 – Potential long-term increase in working-age benefit claimants
21:10 – Boosting productivity as solution to worker shortages

Credit to : Institute of Economic Affairs