The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed
New data released today (20th Jan 2015) has revealed that benefits claimants judged as unfit to work due to mental health problems are more likely to have their benefits stopped by sanctions than those suffering from other conditions.
Policy advisers for the Methodist Church obtained the data using Freedom of Information Requests to the Department of Work and Pensions. It shows that people who receive the sickness and disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because of a long-term mental health problem are being sanctioned at a rate of more than 100 per day. In March 2014 – the last month for which data is available – approximately 4,500 people with mental health problems who receive ESA because of mental health problems were sanctioned.
Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church, said: “We believe that the number of people with mental health problems who have their benefit stopped due to being sanctioned is in fact a great deal higher than 100 a day. Not included in these figures are people who receive ESA due to a physical illness, but who have a higher risk of mental health difficulties.”
According to the DWP data, the most common reason for being sanctioned is that a person has been late or not turned up for a Work Programme appointment.
“Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping. The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed,” said Mr Morrison, who is also the author of an upcoming report on the sanctions regime. “Churches have increasingly seen people in desperate need because they have been sanctioned. The suffering and injustice we have seen caused by the sanctions system deserves serious scrutiny.”
Read the rest of this article from the Methodist Church here: http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases/new-data-more-than-100-people-per-day-with-mental-health-problems-are-having-their-benefits-sanctioned