New report criticises Univeral Credit
A new report from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (set up by consumer champion Martin Lewis) has criticised the new Universal Credit and states that it ‘is exacerbating claimants’ mental health problems because of the benefits system’s “complex” process’. This is due to the excessive red tape that is involved in the new claimant system.
The report found that 93% of claimants feel anxious while waiting to attend a benefits medical assessment while 82% struggle to gather the correct information.
People who suffer from anxiety or from mental health problems can therefore struggle to navigate the benefits system because of symptoms such as reduced concentration, increased impulsiveness and memory problems.
A spokesperson for the report said: “Accessing the benefits system can be a difficult task for anyone, but if you’re struggling with your mental health it can feel almost impossible. The obstacles that people with mental health problems face at every stage of the system not only cause unnecessary distress, they’re also resulting in people missing out on crucial support they are entitled to, or falling out of the system entirely. This urgently needs to change, as it’s ruining lives.”
The report said steps should be taken to make the benefits system more accessible to people with mental health issues – which should include offering a wider range of communication channels through which people can engage with the benefits system.
It said more specific support is needed for those with severe mental health problems.
Finally, the report found 18% of claimants were not happy with the decision made by the DWP about their benefits entitlement.
A DWP spokesman said: “Universal Credit is a force for good, and where challenges remain we will continue to make improvements. We are committed to supporting the most vulnerable claimants and our new partnership with Citizens Advice will provide further tailored help.”
Ann-Marie Matthews is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Suffolk.