Date Published: 10 October 2005

Mental Health Foundation comments on proposed UK Welfare Reforms

Mental Health issues - UK

The Mental Health Foundation has warned that although David Blunkett's principles of welfare reform provide positive aspirations, helping people with mental health problems to (work or) return to work will require a detailed strategy.

At the time of writing, David Blunkett is the UK Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions. Today, 10th October 2005 he outlined his eight principles of welfare reform to get many of the 2.7 million people currently on incapacity benefit back into work.

Dr. Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said:

"These are broadly good aspirations. We know that many people with mental health problems want to get back into work. But the Secretary of State has not yet outlined a strategy for enabling them to do it. He now needs to outline a clear set of policies that use the learning of the Pathways to Work scheme and international best practice including supported employment to enable a safe return to work, removing the very real risks to people's benefits status if they dip a toe in the water.

He must also tackle employer discrimination. Existing Personal Capability Assessment for mental health appears ill thought through, inappropriate and unfair and the benefit system can confuse people, compounding their anxiety and fear of getting their correct benefit entitlement and returning to work."

David Crepaz- Keay, the Foundation's Senior Policy Advisor for Patient and Public Involvement said:

"You have to tackle employer discrimination alongside benefits. Otherwise, benefit reforms of this nature mean you'll have the ludicrous situation of people who are too ill to work inappropriately employed in entry-level jobs, alongside people who are too well to be unemployed claiming benefits.".

Source(s): Mental Health Foundation, UK

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