People with mental health problems more likely to have benefits stopped

The number of benefit sanctions imposed on people with mental health problems has increased by more than 600 per cent over the last four years, Department for Work and Pensions statistics show.

A joint analysis of the figures by the Independent and the mental health charity Mind found that 19,259 people with such conditions had their benefits stopped under sanction in 2014-15 compared to just 2,507 in 2011-12 – a 668 per cent rise.

Tom Pollard, Mind policy and campaigns manager, said the charity wants the Government to ‘overhaul’ the way it deals with people with mental disabilities.

“Figures obtained by Mind show that people with mental health problems are more likely to have their benefits stopped than those with other health conditions,” he said.

“As well as fundamentally rethinking sanctions, we want the Government to overhaul the support it provides to help people with mental health problems.

“In continually refusing to listen to calls for a review of the use of sanctions, the Government is not only undermining its ambition of helping a million more disabled people into work, but is also failing its duty of care for the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems.”

The finding comes weeks after Conservative MP Priti Patel claimed that there is no evidence to suggest that more people with mental health issues received cuts to their benefits than others.

She made these claims despite the recent Freedom of Information request made by Mind that revealed the dramatic rise.

Mr Pollard added: “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,” he told the Independent.

Research by the charity earlier this year found that 83 per cent of people on the Government’s Work Programme because of their mental health problems believed the scheme had made those problems worse.

76 per cent of the same group also said the scheme, which is enforced by sanctions, had made them actually less able to work than before they were allocated to it.

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