Government announces a series of changes affecting disabled people
Today the Government has announced a series of reforms that are meant to improve the lives of disabled people. The announcements relate to a potential Green Paper consultation on benefits, changes to statutory sick pay (SSP) and the forming of a cross-Government disability unit. Promises were made about making sure disabled people are at the heart of government policy. Some of the announcements include:
Disability Benefits Green Paper:
Consulting disabled people including those of us with mental health problems to reform the benefits system.
Reforming statutory sick pay:
Overhauling statutory sick pay (SSP) - the minimum employees receive when their health makes them unable to work - to help more people to stay in work and make sure it's accessible to people on low incomes.
A cross-Government disability unit:
A new disability unit will be formed to sit in the Cabinet Office alongside the Race Disparities Unit. Early projects will include work with different departments to make housing more accessible and improve disabled people’s experience of consumer markets.
Responding to the announcements, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, says:
“Sustained momentum from the Prime Minister and Government to improving support for disabled people is welcome but long overdue. We have long been calling for radical changes to the benefits system which we know can often make people’s mental health worse and hinder their ability to move into paid work.
“While it’s good that the enormous impact financial problems can have on our mental health is finally being recognised, a Green Paper on disability benefits must tackle fundamental issues like sanctions - cutting people’s support when they’re unable to do what’s asked of them. We also need the Government to address problems with benefits assessments which so often lead to people getting the wrong decision and being left without support or having to endure a lengthy and stressful appeals process.
“We welcome the announcement to overhaul statutory sick pay. We know that 300,000 people with mental health problems fall out of work every year due to a lack of support, left with little choice, but to enter a benefits system that is not fit for purpose. Too many people are forced to choose between taking time off work to look after their mental health or paying their bills. Nobody should have to make this choice when they are at their most unwell. We all deserve to receive support that helps us stay afloat when our health or disability prevents us from working or when we are not earning enough to keep a roof over our heads.”