The number of employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants with mental health conditions who receive a sanction has risen by a shocking 668% in the space of just three years, a joint investigation by Mind and the Independent has revealed.
In 2011-12 2,507 ESA claimants with mental health conditions had their benefits sanctioned, mainly for failure to take part in work-related activities. In 2014-15 this figure had risen to 19,259 claimants.
Tom Pollard of Mind told the Independent that the huge rise in sanctions was harmful to people’s mental health:
“Stopping somebody’s benefits, or threatening to stop them, is completely the wrong approach to help people with mental health problems find work – it’s actually counterproductive. Pressurising someone to engage in often inappropriate activities under the threat of losing their benefit causes a huge deal of additional anxiety, often making people more unwell and less able to work.”
The government, however, have already refused to look into whether sanctions and the threat of sanctions is harming claimant’s mental health.
Disabilities minister Priti Patel claimed that:
“There are many factors affecting an individual’s mental health. To assess the effect of sanctions in isolation of all other factors would be misleading.”
Read the full story in the Independent.