Fatal consequences of benefit changes
Posted on 1 June 2011 | 8:06am
Today’s blog is given over to the letter in The Guardian from leading mental health experts and charities, on the impact of some of the government’s welfare reforms. It is self-explanatory.
Reform of the welfare system is steaming ahead, and already we’re hearing about the devastating effects this is having on the mental health of hundreds of thousands of people across Great Britain. While much is made of the impact that changes to benefits will have on people with physical disabilities, it is vital that those with “invisible” issues such as mental health problems are not forgotten. Reassessments of people on incapacity benefit (IB) via the deeply flawed work capability assessment are due to start next month, and the new personal independence payment test is being trialled over the summer – just some of the changes already alarming many people affected by mental distress.
We’ve found that the prospect of IB reassessment is causing huge amounts of distress, and tragically there have already been cases where people have taken their own life following problems with changes to their benefits. We are hugely worried that the benefits system is heading in a direction which will put people with mental health problems under even more pressure and scrutiny, at a time when they are already being hit in other areas such as cuts to services.
There needs to be a shift towards a more sympathetic and supportive system that genuinely takes into account the additional challenges people with mental health problems face and can make a real objective assessment of their needs rather than placing them into a situation where their wellbeing is put at risk.
Paul Farmer Chief executive, Mind, Paul Jenkins Chief executive, Rethink Mental Illness, Professor Bob Grove Joint chief executive, Centre for Mental Health, Dr Jed Boardman Consultant and senior lecturer in social psychiatry, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Bill Walden-Jones Chief executive, Hafal, Billy Watson Chief executive, Scottish Association for Mental Health