1. The claimant count has more than trebled from 700,000 in the late 1970s, costing the Treasury about £12.5bn a year.

2. About 40 per cent suffer from a mental illness or bad nerves. They are half as likely to find work as someone with a physical disability.

3. Around 40 per cent of existing claimants are “self certified”. A new stricter test was brought in last year.

4. The rejection rate has risen from around 35 per cent under to old test to 68 per cent under the new regime. The new test has only applied to new applicants but 40 per cent of them had claimed sickness benefit in the past.

5. Almost half of the 2.5m claimants are over the age of 50. Some 900,000 claimants are expected to die or take the state pension before the re-testing drive is complete.

6.The new test is projected to push more than a million claimants on the dole, steadily increasing the jobless claimant count to 3m by 2014.

7. Ethnic minorities represent just 6 per cent of claimants even though they represent 12 per cent of working population.

8. Around 5.5 per cent of claimants find a job every year. But there is no requirement to do so.

9. After a year on the benefit, the average length of claim is eight years. After two years on the benefit, a claimant is more likely to die or retire than find work.

10. The new test is expected to cut the cost of sickness benefits by around £1.5bn by the end of the parliament. But it will be difficult to find more savings, at least without cutting the level of benefit payments.

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