60% sick claimants in Diamond mentally ill

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Over 60 per cent of people on the sick due to work-limiting conditions or disabilties in the Fountain, Foyle Road, city centre and Westland areas of Londonderry suffer from mental illness.

A geographical analysis of sick benefits, included in a new Executive strategy to get people out-of-work due to sickness or family commitments, back into employment, reveals the high prevalence of psychiatric disorders amongst the jobless in The Diamond and Westland wards of Londonderry.

A quarter of all Employment Support Allowance (ESA) recipients - 27,250 in total - are classed as being in this ‘Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)’ category.

‘Enabling Success - Supporting the transition from economic activity to employment: A strategy to tackle economic inactivity in Northern Ireland,’ has been newly-published by the Departments of Employment and Learning (DEL) and Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETINI).

It identifies concentrations of ESA recipients in Londonderry, West Tyrone and in North and West Belfast.

“These constituencies are also reflected in the top 10 wards, which are all within the 10 per cent most deprived in Northern Ireland, as measured by the Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure (NIMDM) 2010 index,” the report states.

“It is evident that there is a correlation between high concentrations of ESA (WRAG) customers and high levels of deprivation. In comparison, the wards with the lowest number of ESA (WRAG) recipients, such as Stranmillis, Jordanstown, Lisbane, are much less deprived.

“This would indicate the need for a focused intervention approach that is area based.”

The prevalence of mental illness as a major factor in preventing people from engaging in work is also highlighted.

“Seven of the wards appearing in the top 10 for all ESA (WRAG) customers also appear in the top 10 wards with the primary diagnosis of ‘psychiatric disorder’.

“The Diamond, Water Works and Westland all have relatively high proportions of ESA (WRAG) recipients, of whom more than 60 per cent have a primary health diagnosis of ‘psychiatric disorder,’” the report states.