Mentally ill people being made to look for work under Universal Credit (UC) is creating more instability for those suffering psychological problems, according to a national charity.
Ayaz Manji, senior policy and campaigns officer for Mind, spoke about the welfare reforms’ impact on people with anxiety, depression and other conditions.
People who are disabled and claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be migrated on to UC up until 2023, and Mind figures show that nearly 70,000 people with mental health issues in Yorkshire will be affected by it.
UC is also going to ‘full service’ in Leeds and Sheffield over the next couple of months, meaning new claimants will not be able to receive six former benefits which are being phased into the one.
In Leeds, 1,000 people are expected to make claims in the first month alone, according to the Department of Work and Pensions.
Mr Manji said: “What we are seeing so far is a great deal of people with mental health problems struggling with the process.”
He said that a big change is the number of disabled people having to look for a job.
“Every person who applies has to look for work until they have an assessment and it’s proved otherwise [that they are unfit],” he said.
The wait for initial payments, people struggling with the online system and the “unpredictably” of the benefit are all contributing to their mental health problems, the charity believes.
Ahead of the “managed migration” between 2019 and 2023, Mind has called on the Government to remove the power to terminate a person’s existing benefits before they have moved to UC, an approach the organisation believes could create “a vicious cycle of debt, housing problems and deteriorating mental health”.