ESA is broken – but people need support, not sanctions

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Posted on 24/08/2015

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith has today given a speech on welfare.

Responding to this, Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations, said:

“We would welcome any move by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to genuinely improve the support given to help people with mental health problems back to work. The current system is failing this group, with only about 8 per cent of people who are supported by the benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) being helped into work through the Government’s flagship Work Programme. We’ve long been calling for a complete overhaul of the system to take into account and address the barriers that people with mental health problems face in getting into and staying in jobs.

“What people need is support. What they don’t need is more pressure and sanctions. Threatening to punish people by cutting their benefits when they fail to do certain mandatory activities has a negative effect on people’s mental health, and actually pushes people further from work; it is hugely counterproductive.

“We have been calling on the DWP to address these issues for a number of years and will be keen to work with Ministers to improve the support available, but only if they are serious about making the huge changes necessary to fix this broken system. They need to listen to the challenges people with mental health problems face in finding and retaining work, and create support that helps to overcome these challenges, rather than simply placing more pressure on people to find work.”

 

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