HALF a billion working days were lost to sickness over the past four years, alarming figures reveal.
A record 186million of those were lost in 2022 alone, Labour analysis shows.
Jonathan Ashworth, the party’s shadow welfare secretary, hit out at government plans for getting people back into work.
He said: “The failure to get Britain working is holding back our economy and squandering the potential of millions of people who want to work but aren’t getting the right support.”
The figures will fuel growing concern in the Government over the rocketing number of people on long-term sickness benefits after the pandemic.
A record 2.5million are out of work because of ill health, which has led to the benefits bill ballooning.
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The Government is expected to breach its own welfare spending cap by £4billion by 2024-25.
One senior Westminster figure suggested generous long-term sickness benefits could be discouraging people from looking for a job.
They told The Sun on Sunday: “The question being asked is — is the benefits system incentivising people to sign off sick?”