The stability of working age DLA receipt
The chart shows the change in working age Disability Living Allowance receipt from 2002 to 2010 by main disabling condition. It is well known that there was a substantial rise in working age DLA receipt over this period, only part of which is explained by population ageing. It is less widely recognised that this rise was overwhelmingly accounted for by two condition categories: mental health (by far the most important category) and learning difficulties. For other (physical) categories receipt was very stable or falling. Finally, the 'other' category showed what appears to be significant growth: however this is a catch-all category which is impossible to interpret on this data, and it is not even entirely clear that it is consistent over the time period.
The conclusion from this data is that there has been no general rise in working age DLA receipt. Whether there has been an increase in severe mental health problems and/or learning difficulties, or whether the rise for these categories reflects changes in policy and practice, or earlier diagnosis of conditions, remains an open question.
Click on the chart to expand. Source is DWP, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study and 5% sample data. Figures are based on applying 5% sample proportions to WPLS figures in accordance with DWP advice. Adjustment for demographic change is based on ONS Mid-year population estimates.