Representatives from leading mental health charity Mind and anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee yesterday about the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC).
Both charities have recently called on the Government to delay the roll out of UC after the National Audit Office (NAO) released a damning report highlighting how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has not done enough to protect and support ‘vulnerable claimants’ including disabled people and people with health conditions.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
“We presented evidence provided by those we represent further highlighting problems surrounding the much-criticised Universal Credit, which we don’t believe is being delivered safely for many people with mental health problems.
“Under Universal Credit, even those who are severely unwell and at crisis point are still being required to look for work or risking losing their benefits. We’ve also seen a real lack of support for people who aren’t well enough to manage an online claim or monthly payments. While some people with mental health problems are able to manage their money well, for others receiving one payment and being responsible for ensuring rent and bills are paid can be problematic. Taken together these problems are driving too many people into a cycle of debt, housing problems, and deteriorating mental health.
“Once again we’re urging the Government to address the serious problems with the system before they begin to move many thousands of people with mental health problems onto Universal Credit next year. We’re also calling for a guarantee that no-one receiving existing benefits will see their claim stopped before they have been moved on to Universal Credit. Under current proposals people with mental health problems risk slipping through the net if they are not able to make a claim in time. If the Government really is determined to move people over to Universal Credit, they should take responsibility for moving people onto it smoothly and safely while protecting their income and their health.”
Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, said:
“No one should need to turn to a foodbank. Our benefits system was built to end hunger and destitution – Universal Credit can and must continue that legacy, but if it is to do so we need payments to cover the cost of essentials and a true Universal Support system in place: one that is funded, that people are aware of, and that includes debt support and advice for everyone moving onto the new system.
“Foodbanks have seen firsthand the impact on people when there is either no money coming in at all from a benefit payment, or that payment is reduced: people living with physical or mental health conditions skipping meals for days at a time, young families facing eviction, and single men with insecure work struggling to afford the bus fare to work.
“We’re a country that prides itself on making sure proper support is in place for each other whenever help is most needed, whether that is through our health service or benefits system – what is clear is that more must be done, and urgently, before Universal Credit can be seen as part of this tradition.”
For more information, please contact:
Claire Bennett, Senior Media Officer, E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0208 215 2298
The Trussell Trust
Emma Thorogood, Media Manager, E: email@example.com T: 020 3745 5982
Notes to Editors:
- We’re Mind, the mental health charity. We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. mind.org.uk
- Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
- Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am – 6pm, Monday – Friday)
- Contact Mind’s Media Team for interviews or further information on 0208 522 1743. For out of hours support, call 07850 788 514 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To access to a range of free images to accompany mental health news stories, visit: time-to-change.org.uk/getthepicture. These images have been developed by Time to Change, a campaign to change how we all think and act about mental health problems. Time to Change is led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.
About The Trussell Trust:
- The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that runs a network of 428 foodbanks across the UK.
- It is simply not acceptable that so many people in the UK face hunger, and we won’t sit by whilst increasing numbers of people are expected to hit crisis and need a foodbank’s help. We’re committed to creating long term change, challenging the structural issues that lock people into poverty and seeing an end to the need for foodbanks.
- Whilst we work towards this, we’re determined to ensure everyone referred to a foodbank in our network receives the best possible support, so we help foodbanks to offer much more than food: volunteers are supported to provide a listening ear and help resolve the underlying cause of crisis either through signposting onto relevant local charities or providing on-site immediate support, such as money advice and budget cookery courses.
- Read more at trusselltrust.org