The work and pensions secretary, Thérèse Coffey, has indicated benefit sanctions will be reintroduced this week as jobcentres in England start to reopen after lockdown, after being banned for three months to cope with the pandemic.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Coffey refused to extend the arrangements after the three-month period finished on Tuesday.
“Yesterday the Government's announcement that it would re-introduce benefit sanctions as we begin to emerge from lockdown amid a public health crisis, was nothing less than appalling.
“Never has it been more important that the benefits system supports those with mental health problems than it is now. There is little evidence to show that sanctions have a positive effect and we have long been campaigning for an end to sanctions for people with mental health problems, as they cause people fear, anxiety and further hardship. Suspending benefit sanctions was put in place to protect people from the impact of coronavirus. But reintroducing sanctions when coronavirus is still very much an issue is nonsensical. And we will continue to campaign against this decision and to make the benefits system work for those who need it.
“The DWP must reverse this decision immediately and announce how they intend to safeguard those of us with mental health problems with a benefits system that supports, not penalises them, through the pandemic and beyond."
If you’re worried about money and mental health, visit Mind’s website (www.mind.org.uk/money) for information and tips, as well as some other organisations who can help, such as StepChange, Citizen’s Advice and the Money and Mental Health Policy InstituteBenefits