Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, has derided claimants with mental health conditions as being ‘down and bluesy’ as two thirds of universal credit (UC) WCA decisions result in a claimant being found to have limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA)

The latest figures from the DWP show that at December 2023 2.0 million people were on UC health compared to 1.6 million a year earlier

This means that 31% of people on UC were on UC Health – up 4 percentage points from December 2022

Within England, the region with the highest proportion of UC health cases relative to overall UC claimants is the North-East (37%), followed by South-West (34%) and North-West (33%) – and the lowest is London (24%)

For the period April 2019 to November 2023, 2.4 million UC WCA decisions have been made.

  • 16% of claimants were found to be capable of work  
  • 19% of claimants were found to have limited capability for work (LCW),
  • 65% of claimants were found to have limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA)

Of all WCA decisions in the period January 2022 to November 2023, at least 69% are recorded as having mental and behavioural disorders, although this may not be their primary medical condition.

The proportion recorded as having mental and behavioural disorders is lower (55%) for claimants found Capable of Work, and higher (90%) for claimants found to have Limited Capability for Work.

The DWP have also released statistics relating to ESA.

These show that in the latest quarter to September 2023, there were 29,000 completed ESA WCAs with a DWP decision, a 17% increase from the previous quarter to June 2023.

61% of all initial WCA decisions placed the claimant in the support group.

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride told the Telegraph today that:

“There is a real risk now that we are labelling the normal ups and downs of human life as medical conditions which then actually serve to hold people back and, ultimately, drive up the benefit bill.

“If they go to the doctor and say ‘I’m feeling rather down and bluesy’, the doctor will give them on average about seven minutes and then, on 94% of occasions, they will be signed off as not fit to carry out any work whatsoever.

In reality, however, it is the DWP that have to make the decision that a claimant has LCWRA for benefits purposes, not a GP.

You can read the full UC statistics here.

You can read the full ESA statistics here.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Tracey · 21 days ago
    Derogatory dismissive language such as that shows a complete ignorance, disregard and disrespect for people trying to live with MH issues. MH is more than being ‘down and bluesy’ (someone struggling with low mood) for many people which impacts life so badly. 



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    Arthur · 24 days ago
    Of course another politician has once again demonstrated that when they can't succeed at anything they promised to grab votes to get elected for 5 unaccountable years they once again turn there attention to attack those with health problems.
    Those of us with health conditions of any kind are easy targets for politicians to target. 
    People are so conditioned by years of right wing media propaganda they instantly believe their are literally over 3 million people or in their veiw parasites living off their taxes.
    In the run up to the election expect more attacks and tougher proposed changes to get benefits of any kind.
    All the time the profiteers ensure their income flows never reduce.
    All you need to do is look at your living costs to see what is happening. Fuel up Food up Tax bills up. Yet those politicians attacking the sick and poor never mention these issues.
    Yes there are a lot people feeling down as they put it is it any suprise.
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    Roger · 25 days ago
    And of course a dwp assessor who  has had a weeks training  is far more qualified to judge you unfit for work then your GP who has all your medical records at their disposal
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      UB40 Rumrunner · 15 days ago
      @Roger Additionally, not to mention, 7 years appropriate training in medical school. Why dont these numpties grasp that relevant fact. Now could it be, that if left to a GP, they would give the appropriate assessment and record things in a far better clinical manner alongside with their expert judgement. But, we cant have any of that...can we ? Benefits bill would sky rocket.
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    Mark F · 25 days ago
    What a joke! This government has relentlessly run the country and its people into the ground, then wonders why MH (and general ill health) is on the rise. The mind boggles!! I don't know about the 'ups and downs' of life; it's likely more a case of the 'downs and downs' 🙄

    There's also no doubt in my mind that the decline of the average UK diet is a contributing factor (due to the gut-brain axis) yet the government (nor GP's) do anything to address the consumption of ultra processed/synthetic/low nutrition food items. 
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    Diana · 26 days ago
    Sure if mental health was given more funding people suffering from depression and anxiety could be given support and help before becoming too ill to work. 
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    Clare · 26 days ago
    Mental health difficulties in a lot of cases are linked to the disabilities and medical conditions people already have to live with Being thought of as malingerers , scroungers ,liars etc and treated as such Does not help mental health
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    Helen shakles · 26 days ago
    Mel stride needs the sack his incoherent and toxic rhetoric lacks insight and education I think he's taking a page out of Ron liddles book when he said poverty doesn't  cause mental health  problems..absolutely  shocking.
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    Suzie · 26 days ago
    I suffer with PTSD mixed anxiety and depression and never have I been put in not being able to work group. When I updated my illness after being diagnosed with PTSD after a long battle of 5 years for a diagnosis after my partner dropped dead in front of me they said I would have to go into the dwp job center. I get top rate off pip on both . They are a disgrace. I am also a carer of my son who's got autism. 
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    Lis · 26 days ago
    I have several medical conditions that limit my ability to work however according to the job centre I am capable for work.  I ended up appealing the decision and it went to HMCTS.  Both the judge and doctor said I physically cant work and should get LCW but they have to follow the JC guidelines.  They both said that the guidelines are set by the government and they need to change them.
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    Anne-Marie L · 26 days ago
    I am so angry about Stride’s comments. Cannot the Government understand that so many MH problems are linked to the bad health of the society we live in? Where opportunities are limited for so many people? Access to a decent education and training, job prospects, housing, healthcare etc are very limited in so many areas of this country if you aren’t reasonably well off! Councils are struggling not only to provide recreational and cultural enrichments to life but actually basic services. It’s interesting to note that the highest rate of those with MH struggles are in areas of high unemployment and low wages/skills. The lowest rate of MH cases are in London, of course, the wealthiest area of the UK. I would have thought that with their so called ‘superior’ education, some bright spark in government might have noticed this! No, it’s easier to blame the people, the GP’s, anyone but themselves and their complete maladministration of this country. Whether Labour will be any better, who knows? They too have made horrendous mistakes when in power and they will have to balance the books when their turn comes. 
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    Liz · 26 days ago
    Well maybe if you actually provided mental health services those same people could be supported to stay in/get into work. 28 people waiting for an inpatient bed in my area last week, and you have to be wildly psychotic to be even considered for help.

    But hey, let's blame everybody else for the state the country is in because we've only been attacking victims for 13 years
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    O · 26 days ago
    no
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    esty1960 · 26 days ago
    it is appalling! we should be able to make a formal complaint and to make a formal written letter to the newspaper making the case of how horrible the stigma gets fuelled because it is double, 1) the stigma for claimants because they are just a bunch of "comedians" and 2) the stigma of the illness which is to say that it does not exist or it is so easy to fake, so that it plays down the whole importance and transcendence that mental health disability implies. It is one more sign of how fascistic these people are who would love to apply eugenics which they actually do as we have seen what happened with their management of covid19. 
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    Graham · 26 days ago
    Snide is using claimants as easy targets as sabre rattling to the working electorate in the hope of getting votes.
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    Jlee, Bath , UK · 1 months ago
    will Labour make anything any better.????
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Suzie · 26 days ago
      @Jlee, Bath , UK What's labour got to do with it? The tories have treated mental health and the poor like something you'd wipe off your shoe after going for a walk in leaves not seeing that you have stood in it.
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      Carol K · 29 days ago
      @Jlee, Bath , UK No. Liz Kendall is worse than Mel Stride. 
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    wibblum · 1 months ago
    It's just the usual kind of callous, deliberately-dumb, reactionary dogwhistle-blowing that gets  ideological muckspreaders like Camilla Tominey quietly frothing with excitement. Not that that makes it any less dangerous, of course. While it's very tempting to call Stride's observations 'uninformed' and even 'unintelligent', he's well-briefed enough to know *exactly* what he's saying and doing, and the kind of desired effect it should provoke amongst Angry Hard Working Taxpayers.
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      CaroA · 27 days ago
      @Meg Thank you I have been thinking this for some time so many have been through the 'cold showers at dawn' approach in private education sent away aged 8 etc.   I found the BBC documentary on bullying in parliament interesting; younger MPs, women, people of colour etc given a long list of those to avoid as newcomers to parliament by those who have been through it. So they are doing the same in parliament - bullying is bullying. Sadly these people with their damaged egos need for power don't give a damn who they tread on on the way up.  I was just pleased to see the United Nations this week berate them for their callous treatment of us. It seems we are the only country signed up to the UN's disability charter who have broken it consistently.  Let's hope when labour rebuked them for this this week, if they get in, they take note of the UNs concerns.
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      Meg · 1 months ago
      @wibblum Of course he does know, also worth remembering though that theses privately educated types are indoctrinated to deny mental health problems amongst their own as they are labelled a sign of weakness. They are likely to despise anyone who has the ability to be visibly affected by trauma for example, as they were never allowed to do. They are also likely to enjoy punishing those who are struggling as a way of further distancing themselves from this 'failure' I read the recent comments by Earl Spencer with great interest, in his opinion none of them should be in charge of ensuring the wellbeing of vulnerable people, I think most of us would agree with him.
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    C · 1 months ago
    It's astonishing how little these people actually know about living with mental health conditions, and how mental health conditions can be comorbid with physical health conditions. It's astonishing that they don't seem to realise that the way they treat physically disabled people without pre-existing mental health conditions can in turn *cause* mental health conditions, due to the longterm stress, anxiety, fear, and panic. 
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      denby · 1 months ago
      @C I certainly feel that employer bullying them over physical health, ESA and especially PIP assessment/MR/Tribunal strongly worsened my relative's depression and anxiety. The trouble is, the damage never gets undone as many here will testify.

      And it's increasingly being recognised that there are strong links/'comorbidities' between hypermobility [with whatever label], POTS, and being neurodivergent. By the way, you can have A levels or even a degree and still be autistic and or ADHD. Contrary to my assessor's claim to try and rubbish my claim...
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    denby · 1 months ago
    Well if the Gov't funded mental health services, acknowledged to be the 'poor relation' to physical health, adequately, then people whose work-preventing MH conditions aren't lifelong might have a chance of getting treatment that would allow them to return to work. And all patients would have more dignity and respect and support.
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    The Dog Mother · 1 months ago
    Oh, poppycock! 
    You don't stroll into a gps surgery and state depression and anxiety and with the stroke of a pen You are proscribed Antidepressants, it's a careful tailoring of medication for starters and can be combined with specialist input. Therapy and physiatrist evaluation in a lot of cases.
    All Strides doing is downplaying the serious implications of mental health problems. 
    Does he know what the back story is of each person suffering? NO! 
    It's too easy for those who have never been on the fragile side of MH to trivialise it.
    Since when was he experienced in the treatments and complex needs of MH sufferers. 
    Another swipe in the direction of those who will never get past the cause and effect of being held hostage to your own thinking and anxiety beyond your control. 
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      Edwards · 24 days ago
      @The Dog Mother Correct,they give you beta blockers first,they don't help panic attacks at all,they don't stop hyperventilation,no antidepressant ever helped me,diazepam doesn't do much, just take the edge off it making the attacks shorter,no-one who hasn't been through it can't understand how debilitating it is,I havnt been down a dual carriageway or motorway for 10 years,I can not safely do it,I tried to escape the car last time during cbt and they cancelled my cbt after that,I was told I was a danger to everyone in the car and everyone else on the motorway,I was told not to go on as my condition is too severe and my panic reaction abnormality severe,I struggle on normal roads and can't drive myself anywhere now,we don't ask for this,no-one wants it,it's the same old way of thinking on their part,if I don't have it,it doesn't exist,even my tory sister thinks this way,she's never had it so it doesn't exist,we do not speak and haven't for a long time because if this,to her I'm a sponge,she doesn't think about the fact she can go on holiday anywhere and I can't go anywhere, if I was making it up,I wouldn't be mostly housebound would I??
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    reasonstobecheerful · 1 months ago
    That guy just needs to chill.
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