BHT and I are putting on another course dealing with this tricky subject as so many local service users claim benefits on these grounds.
This is reflected across the country, with growing numbers of Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment claims being made due to mental health issues. Many people make a causal link, arguing that the stresses of dealing with the current benefit system exacerbate existing mental health problems.
Whether or not that’s true, there is no denying that the scene is shifting all the time. In March, the focus of the Government and the DWP was on PIP, as the announcement was made to reduce access to the mobility component for people claiming solely on the grounds of ‘psychological distress’, with the explicitly stated aim of preventing most people with all but the most severe anxiety disorders from being able to gain enough points to get the standard rate.
In April we saw the removal of access to the work-related activity component of ESA for new claims, meaning that people who have been assessed as too unwell to work (but not unwell enough to make it to the support group) now have the same amount of benefit as jobseekers. Accompanying this change is the Government’s new commitment to providing help to ESA claimants in this category, promising the opportunity of a ‘Health and Work’ conversation with a work coach. This is in fact a renamed work focused interview, and is a foretaste of the revised conditionality regime for ESA claimants to be introduced this summer.
And let’s not forget Universal Credit! By the time this course is held, the ‘full service’ version of Universal Credit will already be installed in Hove, and only a few days away from Brighton’s ‘go live date’. This will have enormous implications for people claiming on mental health grounds, due to the inherent design of UC, such as the need to make and maintain claims online, and to cope with a delay of several weeks before new claims are paid. Areas which already have the full service, such as Hastings, are seeing a rise in mental health clients seeking advice, as they are struggling to cope with the demands of the new UC system.
As always, my mantra in these blogs and on courses is to prepare well and thoroughly. These particular claimants are the people who are statistically most likely to fail their ESA and PIP claims or to be awarded the wrong amounts.
Find out more
Click below to find out more about our upcoming Benefits and Mental Health course and to book your place.
This half day course will take you through what’s changing, how to prevent problems arising, and how to empower yourself and your clients to cope with what lies ahead to minimise everyone’s stress and anxiety!
About Jayne Knights
Jayne has been delivering training in Brighton for 13 years.
After qualifying as a social worker and working as an adviser in London, she finally made it to the seaside and has been in Brighton since the mid-80s, doing a variety of benefits-related jobs.
Having had such a long immersion in benefits world, she is familiar with just about every scenario that might crop up, and aims to bring that experience and overview into all of her courses.