Benefit claims by those too fat to work have soared under Labour ...
Benefit claims by those too fat to work have soared under Labour
Obese benefit claimants who are officially too fat to work have cost the taxpayer £80million under Labour.
The number of people claiming incapacity benefit because they are obese has doubled since 1997 as ministers moved people off the dole queue and on to sickness benefit.
The obese are £25 a week better off if they claim incapacity benefit rather than jobseeker's allowance.
Too fat to work: The number of benefit claims from Britain's obese people have doubled since 1997
Official figures show it cost more than £9.5million just to keep 2,040 obese claimants on a weekly incapacity benefit of £89.80 a week last year.
In 1997, just half the current number - 1,100 - claimed incapacity benefit because of their obesity.
The Tories' analysis of the Department of Work and Pensions' figures estimated that the true cost of keeping the obese on state handouts was more than £100million over 12 years, a figure disputed by the Government.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa May said: 'Labour have ignored obesity crisis in this country. They ditched the targets set out by the last Conservative government and abandoned a group of people who need their help the most.
'Now the public has been left to pick up the mounting benefit bill for Labour's decade of incompetence. We can't go on like this.'
The DWP said the true cost of obesity-linked incapacity since 1997 was closer to £80million.
A spokesman pointed out the Tory figures were based on the 2010 incapacity rate of £89.80 a week, rather than the lower rates paid in previous years.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa May accused Labour of ignoring Britain's obesity crisis
Minister for Disabled People Jonathan Shaw said the Government had made its sickness benefit tests more rigorous to weed out the workshy from genuine claimants.
'Being obese does not qualify anyone for a handout. Incapacity benefit is paid where people are too ill to work and some people have a mix of different health conditions,' he said.
Around 2.6million people are now claiming incapacity benefit - treble the amount in 1979.
The Tories have stopped short of saying that the obese should not be able to claim incapacity benefit for fear of being portrayed as 'fatist'.
However David Cameron has criticised stationer WHSmith over its cut-price confectionary deals.
Labour has also been accused of presiding over a vast sell-off of school playing fields, which has had the effect of discouraging exercise among young people.
After a decade of rising incapacity benefit numbers, ministers announced last year that they would subject all claimants to a work test. Ministers hope to prise some of the claimants off state handouts and into jobs if they are found to be fit enough to work.
Obesity costs the NHS £4.2billion a year, and doctors warn this will double by 2050 if the nation's bad eating habits and lack of exercise are not reversed.
Last year it emerged that the number of patients admitted to hospital for weightrelated issues has risen sevenfold in a decade.
Some 5,018 people ended up in hospital in 2007-08 because they were so fat their health was in danger. In 1996-97, just before Labour came to power, only 738 ended up in hospital with obesity as the main diagnosis.
Earlier this month it emerged that despite spending nearly £11billion and trying 26 different policies, Labour has failed to improve the health of toddlers. A report revealed that the gap between the welfare of under-fives in better-off places and poorer areas of England has widened over the past 12 years.
The report, Giving Children a Healthy Start, found that while the gap between rich and poor children has not narrowed, obesity and dental health among poorer youngsters has worsened.
The report said pre- school children in deprived areas are 8 per cent more likely than others to be obese.
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