Going out to work cures stress and depression much more effectively than watching daytime TV at home, according to work and pensions secretary David Blunkett.
Blunkett has outlined his “eight principles of welfare reform” to get many of the 2.7 million people on incapacity benefit back into work.
He told BBC Radio: “If people… re-associate with the world of work, suddenly they come alive again. That will overcome depression and stress a lot more than people sitting at home watching daytime television.”
Blunkett said four times the number of people were claiming incapacity benefit than were receiving invalidity benefit 25-30 years ago.
He pledged “a whole range of medical, social, therapeutic interventions to help people get off benefit and back into work”.
Health secretary Patricia Hewitt is set to unveil an occupational health programme later this year.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said if the reforms are to have the desired outcomes they will need to be accompanied by support and guidance for employers who will be required to take on people from ‘core jobless’ groups.
John Philpott, chief economist at the CIPD, said: “Widespread reluctance on the part of employers to recruit the core jobless highlights the magnitude of the task facing the government as it strives to get more economically inactive benefit claimants off welfare and into work.
“Government also needs to work to tackle the concerns of employers and to improve the employability of these core jobless groups if it is to ensure there are jobs for people to go to if their benefits are to be reduced.”