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Number of people not working due to long-term sickness hits 2.83m

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THE number of people not working due to long-term illness has reached the highest level on record.

Official figures show it rose by 55,000 to 2.83million in the three months to April — threatening to stall the country’s economic growth.

The number of people not working due to long-term illness rose by 55,000 to 2.83million

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The number of people not working due to long-term illness rose by 55,000 to 2.83millionCredit: Getty

The increase is blamed for swelling the number of “economically inactive” adults — those who are out of work and not looking for a job — to 9.4million.

That figure represents more than a fifth of the working-age population.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 30 per cent of those deemed economically inactive are long-term sick, 18 per cent are looking after a family member, and 27 per cent are students.

And 11 per cent of them are early retirees.

Analysis by the ONS shows older people are typically off sick with physical complaints — particularly bad backs — while younger workers are off due to mental health conditions.

Tony Wilson, director at the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “We need to address this urgently, because when employment stops growing the economy stops growing too.

“Reforming employment support needs to be a priority for the next government, so more people can access the help they need to get back to work.”

The ONS figures also show the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 per cent — the highest level for two years — but is still at near-historic lows.

And wages rose by 6 per cent in the first quarter.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “There is a massive divide between those in secure jobs, who are seeing the biggest increases in wages for three years, and those who have lost work in a difficult market and face a horrible squeeze.”

Find work or lose your benefits, warns PM as millions face crackdown on ‘sick note’ culture & state handouts

The Bank of England has been keeping an eye on wage growth — which risks keeping inflation high, as companies pass on higher staffing costs to consumers.

Economists reckon the current figure gives the Bank little reason to lower interest rates before the election.

UNIFORM PRICES IN SHOP WAR

SCHOOL’S not even out for summer yet, but retailers are already making uniforms their clothing battleground.

Marks & Spencer has told The Sun it is holding the price of its school uniforms for the fourth year on the bounce and bringing back its 20 per cent off special promotion for early-bird shoppers.

Its two pack of trousers are £11 while its three-pack of shirts will stay at £7.

The retailer is also investing £1million on “school uniform advisers” in 120 shops.

Alexandra Dimitriu, kidswear director at M&S, said: “Trusted value, hand-me-down quality and exceptional service sit at the heart of what we offer.”

Meanwhile, Aldi is planning to launch its £5 uniform bundles for the third year in a row.

The special buys offer, which includes two polo shirts, sweatshirt and trousers, skirts or shorts, is set to launch on July 4.

DEBTS ON HOMES UP

THE number of borrowers behind on their mortgages has hit an eight-year high.

They have been left struggling to pay as higher interest rates have driven up monthly home loan payments.

Figures from the Bank of England show the proportion of home loans in arrears has risen from 1.23 per cent to 1.28 per cent in the first three months of this year.

It is the highest level since it hit 1.24 per cent in 2016.

GOOSE IS GETTING FAT

Golden Goose has been valued at up to £1.6billion, the distressed Running Dad sneakers are available for a whopping £485

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Golden Goose has been valued at up to £1.6billion, the distressed Running Dad sneakers are available for a whopping £485

GOLDEN Goose, which sells dirty and worn-looking trainers for folk too lazy to scuff them up themselves, has been valued at up to £1.6billion.

The Italian company, whose distressed Running Dad sneakers are available for £485, is being listed on the Milan stock exchange.

Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez have worn the luxury brand’s lived-in style footwear.

The float will raise almost £500million for Golden Goose’s private equity owner.

A RASPBERRY HOORAY

TECH firm Raspberry Pi has juiced up the City after its shares jumped 40 per cent in its first day of trading on the London stock market.

The company, which makes computers to teach children to code, has helped quench the drought of new listings.

It priced its shares at 280p — valuing the business at £540million. However, within hours of its public debut, shares in Raspberry Pi shot up to 290p, sending the value towards £751million.

The London Stock Exchange has been suffering from a dearth of listings recently while firms have chosen to float in New York, where there are bigger valuations and more tech firms.

But Raspberry Pi boss Eben Upton yesterday defended the UK.

He said: “The quality of the interactions during the marketing process has underlined our belief that London has the right calibre and sophistication of investor to support growing, ambitious technology businesses such as Raspberry Pi.”

ALERT ON LABOUR’S TRAIN BID

Avanti West Coast has warned a Labour victory is a threat to its business

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Avanti West Coast has warned a Labour victory is a threat to its businessCredit: Avanti

AVANTI WEST COAST owner FirstGroup has warned a Labour victory and possible renationalisation of railways is a threat to its business.

Labour plans to fold existing private rail contracts into a new state-owned operator — Great British Railways — as deals expire or are broken.

FirstGroup said: “Whilst a number of risks facing the business have reduced during the year, industrial relations challenges still persist.

“Furthermore, a change of government could lead to the renationalisation of the National Rail contracts as expiry dates of agreements are reached.”

Despite this, the firm, which also runs Great Western Railway and South Western Railway, saw shares barely move yesterday.

It came as FirstGroup swung to a £24.4million pre-tax loss from a £128million profit the previous year, while revenues remained flat at £4.7billion.


THE boss of Severn Trent has collected a £3.2million pay package, months after the water firm was fined £2million for sewage spills.

Liv Garfield’s total pay has risen by 2.1 per cent, including an annual bonus of £584,000.


DEBANK BOSS HAS NEW JOB

DAME Alison Rose, the former boss of NatWest who left in the wake of the Nigel Farage debanking scandal, has been hired by one of the UK’s biggest private equity firms.

The 54-year-old has been taken on as an adviser by Charterhouse, which previously owned Saga and manages assets of £4.2billion.

It is her first post since she admitted she had provided incorrect information about Reform UK leader Mr Farage to the BBC as to why his Coutts bank account had been closed.

London-based private bank Coutts is run by NatWest.

Dame Alison, who was one of the most prominent women in the City, forfeited £7.6million of pay and bonuses when leaving the bank last year but was cleared of misconduct.

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