Mind responds to the Autumn Statement
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt MP, has delivered his Autumn Statement, laying out the UK government's financial priorities for the immediate and longer-term future.
Key announcements include:
Benefits will be increased in line with inflation
Changes to the to the way people are assessed to be well enough to work have been confirmed
People receiving benefits could lose access to full support if they haven’t taken certain steps around employment
The expansion of an employment support service which is part of NHS community mental health teams, for people with severe mental health problems
An investment of £300 million in the NHS to cover the cost of strikes – well below the £1 billion the NHS has asked for
Dr Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
“This Autumn Statement is a backwards step for the UK, which people with mental health problems will feel sharply. Changes to the way people are assessed to be well enough to work are brazenly motivated by a desire to save money, driven by baseless assumptions about disabled people and hugely stigmatising. The reality is that the vast majority of people with mental health problems want to work but are consistently let down by poor support across the board. The UK government must urgently rethink these plans.
“Poverty and mental health problems form a vicious cycle. The decision to increase benefits in line with inflation is the bare minimum we’d expect and still not enough to cover the essentials. But the idea that punishing those who don’t seek work - by cutting off access to benefits, and even medication – could be a good way to get people into employment is both completely unfounded and perverse.
“We welcome investment into an NHS scheme that helps people with mental health problems to find work in a way that supports them to get better. But it won’t be enough to counteract the other measures announced today. Such initiatives can only have a positive impact when coupled with a welfare system that works with them, not against them, and a government that also backs workplaces to support people’s mental health.”