Login FormClose

Free, fortnightly PIP, ESA and UC Updates

Our fortnightly bulletin, with over 80,000 subscribers, is the UK's leading source of benefits news. Find out what's changing, how it affects you and how to prepare. Our mailing list is securely managed by icontact in the US.

A report by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI), The Benefits Assault Course, has found that the benefits system exacerbates claimants’ mental health issues.

MMHPI was set up by Martin Lewis, of Money Saving expert website fame.

The Institute interviewed over 450 people with mental health conditions who claim benefits. They found that ‘overly complicated and bureaucratic processes in the benefits system’ are ‘causing significant psychological distress for people already struggling with their mental health.’

In a survey by the charity of over 450 people with mental health problems who receive benefits, over 94% reported symptoms of anxiety as result of engaging with the benefits system, and nearly half (45%) displayed signs of severe or extreme anxiety.

The Institute found problems at every stage of the benefits system:

Complex application processes: Four in five (82%) survey participants said they struggled to gather the right information and medical evidence when applying for benefits.

Stressful assessments: Nine in ten participants (93%) said their mental health deteriorated in anticipation of attending a benefits medical assessment.

Lack of mental health awareness in the system: Less than one in five participants (19%) felt their benefits assessor understood the impact of their mental health problems.

Difficulties challenging benefits decisions: Four in five people (81%) said they were unhappy with the final decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about their benefits entitlement, but many did not feel able to challenge the system because of their mental health.

The report recommends a number of changes to make the benefits system more accessible for people with mental health problems:

Introduce a range of reasonable adjustments to ensure anyone experiencing mental health problems can navigate the benefits system. These could include offering a wider range of communication channels through which people can engage with the benefits system, or giving people with mental health problems advance sight of the questions they will encounter in benefits interviews.

Put in place specific support for people with severe mental health problems who are accessing benefits. For example, people who are receiving out-of-work benefits through Universal Credit are required to look for jobs and attend ongoing assessments. But this can be an impossible task for someone experiencing a mental health crisis. The government should exempt people in this position from these rules, to protect them from benefits sanctions – just as similar protections exist for victims of domestic abuse, and people receiving treatment for drug or alcohol dependency.

You can download a copy of The Benefits Assault Course from this page

Comments  

#5 Squirrel 2019-03-14 13:20
I believe my mental health has deteriorated permanently due to the lengthy terrifying, gut wrenching assessment process. I finally got the higher rates for PIP last year but didnt feel much relieve. I am scared they will suddenly decide it's wrong or time for another assessment. I was suicidal during the assessment phase, if there had been any way I could have survived without benefits i would gladly have done so. I was shocked by the things that happened, never would have thought it could be so awful.Now I feel it is never over, no time to feel safe enough to get better. I don't want to post this now because I don't want to upset other people who might be going through it but it needs saying that the system supposed to help us is hurting us, maybe sometimes irreparably
+2 #4 Asbo 2019-03-13 14:53
Reasonable adjustments should be for a paper based assessment. I'm sorry but my GP recommended I should have one and what did ATOS do? They not only wouldn't give me a home visit but asked me in twice. My MH suffered dramatically as a result. I needed to increase meds and had worse migraines. Their justification for calling me in was because I had been to my GP surgery, well that causes me enough distress and it's not the same thing at all. I managed to get a home visit only by contacting my MP and that was stressful enough
+2 #3 speirsy 2019-03-13 12:22
Re: "Less than one in five participants (19%) felt their benefits assessor understood the impact of their mental health problems."

They (the assessors) don't understand the impact of ANY condition, Mental Health & Physical. They don't want to & are never going to try, from Depression/Anxi ety to Motor Neurone Disease & everything inbetween.
They are financially incentivised to strike as many folk off receiving any 'benefits' as they can, otherwise Why would there be such a phenomally high success rate when people get to the Courts/Tribunal s stage. It's purely income generation. Just like the huge increase in speed cameras',gettin g fined £60 for 'speeding' @ for example,doing 52mph in a 50mph zone & yet when someone is burgled they're lucky if the police even turn out these days. Just another calculated & well resourced tactic by the govt. to gain millions by targeting the easy pickings & 'low hanging fruit'.
I don't have Mental Health issues & yet when that buff brown envelope lands on the doormat I'm in tears at the sight of it & it take me days to muster the strength to open it.
+1 #2 SJ 2019-03-13 09:33
Reasonable adjustments? I'm not sure Capita know what they are.

I asked for the questions in advance as a reasonable adjustment. Capita didn't reply to any of my emails -- they don't reply to emails by email, they'll only reply if they have your phone number.

When they replied to my complaint, they said that providing the questions in advance doesn't fit with DWP's contract -- so the DWP contract overrides the Equality Act to Capita.

They did accept that they should have replied to my emails as a reasonable adjustment, and offered me £75 compensation, which I declined.

My complaints are currently with the Independent Case Examiner.

The system is a sick joke. I have physical disabilities, mental health problems and I'm on the autism spectrum. I have to struggle my way through the process so I can afford to live, and by doing that they think I'm more capable than I say. You can't win.
+1 #1 annken 2019-03-07 12:31
the 8 month process before a decision is cruel in the extreme just to find a few months later the process begins all over again.
doctors should be up in arms they just seem to be sitting back and letting our health deteriorate. we help them when they ask us too when they are striking or asking our support over hospital closures.

You need to be logged in to comment