Downgrading benefits for people with mental health problems is dangerous and won’t help job searching, says Centre for Mental Health

21 March 2024

The Government’s decision to downgrade disability benefits for people with mental health problems is both dangerous and unlikely to help people get into work, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Andy Bell said today.

“Reducing people’s benefits and putting them at risk of sanctions is harmful and will increase rates of mental ill health. Better support to get work is needed, not the threat of greater impoverishment.

“There has been a sharp rise in mental ill health since 2020, especially among young people. This is not a cultural phenomenon but a real rise in distress, depression and anxiety.

“The Government has rightly invested in expanding Individual Placement and Support employment services that have the best chance of helping people to get the job for them and better health in the long term. The shadow of sanctions will undermine this approach. It will make people’s health worse and offer no help at all to job seeking.

“The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions’ assertion that ‘mental health culture has gone too far’ is not based on robust evidence and ignores compelling evidence of rising levels of distress. It risks belittling people’s struggles and delaying help seeking until it is too late.

“Parity of esteem should apply in social security as much as health care. This policy risks especially disadvantaging people with a mental health difficulty.

“We urge a rethink based on evidence of what will actually help the many thousands of people who are struggling with their mental health and need a compassionate, effective and speedy response to recover their health and have a fairer chance in life.”

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