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The latest Government statistics show that people claiming the disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are having their financial support cut more and more frequently.
The figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that there were more than three times as many sanctions in June 2014 compared to June 2013.
These figures relate specifically to people in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA, who are expected to undertake certain activities in order to receive their benefits. The number of people in this group has actually fallen by more than 10,000.
Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, the mental health charity, said:
“We’re very concerned that an increasing number of people on ESA are having their benefits stopped, despite the fact that there are now fewer people in the WRAG. We know that around half of people in the WRAG need support because they have mental health problems, but over 60 per cent of sanctions are imposed on this group."
“It is unjustifiable that people with mental health problems are being disproportionately affected by this increasingly punitive system. This confirms our fears that people are being pressured to undertake activities that are inappropriate for them and are not having their mental health properly taken into account."
“As a result people often become more anxious and unwell and this makes a return to work less likely. We urgently need to see people with mental health problems placed on a scheme which recognises and helps them overcome the challenges they face in finding and keeping a job.”