WELFARE REFORM and MENTAL HEALTH

CARERWATCH are extremely concerned about the new Welfare Reform Bill that is currently on its way through Parliament. As it stands it will subject people with severe and enduring mental illness to sanctions and ‘conditionality’. They will be threatened with the loss of their benefits if they do not follow ‘direction’ from DWP officials. CARERWATCH think this is inhumane and want these service users to be allocated to the ESA ‘support group’ where they will not be threatened. We think that the best way of helping people with illnesses like schizophrenia and bi polar is to build up trust with people and to support them in keeping as well as they can. This is best NHS practice. By keeping well people have the best chance of being able to achieve their goals. Many people need to take regular medication to stay well. If they stop complying with medication things can spiral down very fast and they can end up back through the revolving door in to hospital. We think it is absurd for the DWP to come along with big boots and threaten people who suffer from enduring mental illness with loss of benefit and thus stability. Many of them have memories of psychosis, homelessness, chaos and to threaten them is inhumane. There is plenty of well intentioned help for people to find and stay in work in this bill and we welcome that. But this will be undermined by the threats that will produce fear. Fear and mental health do not go well together. Fear can lead to non compliance in taking medication, to non cooperation and to withdrawal. Sanctions will undermine the best efforts in this bill. People who have...

Zoe Gannon – Compass

CarerWatch thank Zoe Gannon for this excellent article. All that is needed is for people with severe and enduring mental illness to be moved to the ‘support’ group. The Welfare Reform Bill will wreak havoc for some of the most vulnerable people By Zoe Gannon Our welfare system is about to take a battering. The Welfare Reform Bill is in the final days of the committee stage in the House of Lords and the reforms that it will push through will change how we do welfare for the foreseeable future. It will remove our right to support, and put in its place conditionality and workfare. If you fall off the work ladder you will have to earn any support you receive. Whether or not you believe this is the right thing to do for the majority of people – and personally I believe it will do more harm than good – for a number of vulnerable groups it will wreak havoc.  The truth is that everyone, including the government, knows that sanctions are not appropriate for people suffering severe mental health problems. The law must allow people suffering fluctuating conditions such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and serious depression to move in and out of work without fear of punishment, loss of income or deprivation. This is why Compass is supporting a small group of Independent and Liberal Democrat Peers who are putting up a fight to safeguard people with severe mental illness from the threat of sanctions which are currently in the Welfare Reform Bill. The bill is all but passed yet even at this late hour we need...

Letter to Guardian – last Grand Committee today

Last Grand Committee on Welfare Reform Bill at 2pm this afternoon. Please e-mail Ministers before this this address works best ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk more details and suggested text at www.compassonline.org.uk Letter in today’s Guardian Dear Sir Simon Jenkins calls for a revival of the spirit of the left. We can begin it by changing the welfare reform bill which is completing the committee stage in the House of Lords. A small group of Independent and Liberal Democrat peers are trying to amend the legislation in order to protect people with severe mental illness. People with mental illness want to contribute to society and to have their dignity. We need a system in which people suffering fluctuating conditions are able to move in and out of work without fear of punishment or loss of income. It will require flexibility in a properly funded system, government support for employers, and it will mean an integration of non-coercive support, therapy and care for people with mental illness. Instead of the bill contributing to the problem of mental illness in Britain, it could become part of the solution. Neal Lawson Compass, Caroline Lucas MEP, Jonathan Rutherford Middlesex University, Prof Ruth Lister Loughborough University, Jon Cruddas MP, Leanne Wood AM National Assembly for Wales, Oliver James, Sebastian Saville Release, Mark Thomas, Sam Tarry Young Labour, Frances Kelly and Rosemary O’Neill...

Mental health Amendment – Welfare reform Bill

Read the full details of the campaign at http://www.compassonline.org.uk/news/item.asp?n=4857   This is wonderful news. The LibDem Lords are going to try and get an amendment accepted to the Welfare Reform Bill tomorrow in the Grand Committee to protect people with severe mental illness from sanctions. Compass is organising an e-mail campaign to the DWP Ministers now before the meeting at 3.30pm tomorrow afternoon. Please, please e-mail the Minsisters now They want you to send e-mails to the Ministers at coopery@parliament.uk mckenziew@parliament.uk saying The Welfare Reform Bill is completing the Report Stage in the House of Lords and I’m very concerned at the government’s unwillingness to recognise the impact it will have on people with severe mental illness.  Everyone knows that sanctions against this vulnerable group will not work and will cause suffering. People with mental illness want to contribute to society.  We need a system in which people suffering fluctuating conditions are able to move in and out of work without fear of punishment or loss of income.  It will require flexibility in a properly funded system, government support for employers, and it will mean an integration of non-coercive support, therapy and care for people with mental illness. Instead of the Bill contributing to the problem of mental illness in Britain, it could become part of the solution. Please talk to those concerned about the Bills impact on the mentally ill. We can create a better model of employment opportunity and support for people with mental illness that does not depend on the threat of sanctions.  ...

Welfare – US Workfare

The Welfare Reform Act 2009 is in its last stages. It’s not just a change in the names and types of benfits – it’s a complete change in how our society thinks about claimants. CarerWatch obviously thinks about those that have ill health, many who are disabled, carers, but the plan is to merge all claimants in to one group and single mothers and the unemployed are all being targetted. The regime that is being brought in is aimed at a fit lazy twenty two year old who doesn’t want to work. The DWP will summon him for interview and set a program of activity for him. He will be ‘directed’ to do things to overcome his barriers to work. He will be ‘directed’ to do these things. If he fails to comply they will take away his benefits. CarerWatch finds it totally unacceptable that this same coercive and judgemental regime is to be used on those with serious ill health/disability. People with severe and enduring illness, both physical and mental illnesses, will be treated like this and bullied and threatened. In particular CarerWatch is distressed that people with mental impairment – schizophrenia and bi polar – who cannot negotiate and defend themselves to officals will be treated like this. CarerWatch are a non political group but we are dismayed that because NewLabour and the Tories are colluding in this, the Welfare Reform Bill has gone through Parliament so swiftly. As this is such a fundamental change in our welfare state and means that benefits are no longer a right but are ‘conditional’ on complying with ‘direction’ from an official or private contractor with a target – it means that a ...