Only 53% are in paid work
People with a longstanding mental health problem are around twice as likely to be in poverty as those without such a problem, research shows.
Among 25-54 year-olds, 28% of people with a longstanding health problem and 40% of those with a mental health problem are in relative poverty, compared with around 18% for those without longstanding health problems.
In 2016-17, 27% of 25-54 year olds (equivalent to 6.9 million people) reported having a longstanding illness, of which 18% (1.3 million) reported having a longstanding mental health problem.
The number of people with a longstanding mental health problem has risen by 250,000 since 2013-14, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ (IFS) annual report.
The study also found individuals with a longstanding illness are much less likely to be in employment, especially if they have a mental health problem.
Around 88% of the healthy population are in paid work, compared to 70% of those in poor health. Only 53% of those with a mental health problem were in paid work in 2016-17.
More than half of those out of paid work for at least three years have a longstanding health problem, and one in six have a mental health problem.
Meanwhile, among people in paid work those with a longstanding illness earn less.
Median earnings for employees in poor health are 12% below those of the healthy, in part because they work fewer hours a week.
Again, mental health problems are associated with worse outcomes still, with median earnings of just £369 per week – 23% below those for employees without a longstanding health problem.
Jonathan Cribb, a senior research economist at IFS and an author of the report, said poor health presents a real challenge to a government looking to increase employment and living standards and control welfare spending.