The reasons that people sign on to incapacity benefits are subject to large regional variations, latest research has concluded.
A study in Occupational Medicine, a Society of Occupational Medicine journal, has also suggested that there have been major changes in the reasons for people claiming incapacity benefit.
The study focused on new incapacity benefit awards for mental health problems and for musculoskeletal problems such as back, neck and arm pain between 1997 and 2007, which together account for more than half of all incapacity benefit awards and were responsible for more than three million new awards during the 11-year study period.
The ratio of new claims for mental illness to those for musculoskeletal disorders more than doubled between 1997 and 2007, the researchers found, in large part because the number of new awards for musculoskeletal problems declined by more than 50%.
This change occurred across the country, but was found to be substantially greater in North-East England and Scotland than in the South-East, and progressively larger at greater distances from London, it added.
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