Opinions

SAMH call for change to Universal Credit in new report: ‘It Was A Confusion’

Written by: Debbie Horne, Public Affairs Assistant, Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)

Debbie outlines the findings of the report which explores the impact of Universal Credit on people living with a mental health problem.

Last month, Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) released a new report (this link will take you away from our website) looking at the impact of Universal Credit on people living with a mental health problem.

Based on real-life experiences and a review of the latest evidence, the report concluded that Universal Credit is causing emotional distress and financial hardship for people with mental health problems. Simply, Universal Credit is not working for people with mental health problems.

The failure of the Universal Credit system to understand mental health problems was demonstrated by a father who told us about his experience of trying to support his son through the Universal Credit process:

‘They see you’re disabled, yes, but the impact it’s having on him and me, no, they don’t, there’s no help at all, there doesn’t seem to be that sort of … understanding of his health problems, no, they understand that he’s disabled but not what he’s going through mentally.’

Our report highlights how the Universal Credit system needs to change to prevent further distress being caused. We are calling on the UK government to fundamentally rethink Universal Credit, from the application process to the support people receive while getting the benefit.

Our recommendations clearly set out the actions the UK government should take now to improve the way Universal Credit is working for people with mental health problems. The measures we want the Government to take include: scrapping the digital by default nature of Universal Credit; ending compulsory job searching or other work related activities for people whilst they wait for a Work Capability Assessment and outcome; and abolishing the initial five week wait for payment.

Overall we are calling for no one to be transferred to Universal Credit from the legacy benefits either through natural or managed migration, until the fundamental flaws in the system are addressed.

To help make our recommendations a reality, two of our Public Affairs Team headed off to London to speak to MPs in the House of Commons about the problems Universal Credit is causing. The MPs we met with heard the concerns of people with mental health problems and are now working to try and improve the Universal Credit system.

For more information, advice and ideas on how to improve your own mental health see our website (this link will take you away from our website).  Read ‘It Was A Confusion’ (this link will take you away from our website) to read our report in full.

Our member

Our Member

Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)

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