Sanctioned Jobless with Mental Health Problems not “Vulnerable” says DWP.
Sanctioned Jobseekers with mental health problems are not classed as ‘vulnerable’ unless they have an accompanying physical health problem, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Reports Welfare Weekly.
Use of the controversial sanctions regime, which sees claimants money cut or stopped for up to three years, has rocketed since stricter rules were introduced by the government.
When a claimant has their Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) reduced or stopped they can apply for a hardship payment – up to 60% of their JSA. This can go some way to cover the cost of food and bills while they have no other means of support. Those classed as ‘vulnerable’ can normally claim this vital support immediately, but others may have to wait at least two weeks.
However, those JSA claimants with even the most serious mental health illnesses are not considered vulnerable by DWP; they have to instead wait and go through what could become a lengthy application process.
DWP guidance on hardship payments states: “Requests for hardship payments may be made by people who say they have a mental condition. A person will only be a member of a vulnerable group if the condition causes limitation in functional capacity because of a physical impairment.”
It continues: “It is extremely rare for a mental condition to produce a physical impairment that limits or restricts functional capacity but it can happen.”
For decision makers in any doubt, the guidance goes on to clarify all mental illnesses “without physical impairment”:
- Affective disorder
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bipolar Affective disorder
- Bulimia nervosa
- Dissociative disorders
- Nervous Debility
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Panic attacks
- Phobic anxiety
Welfare Weekly cites statistics showing that 23% of JSA claimants have a mental health condition.
“While those suffering from the most severe mental illnesses are likely to receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), it is estimated that 23% of JSA claimants have a mental health condition.”
This should be put in full context: the same statistical source estimates that 16% of the General Population has a mental health condition (Page 3. Mental Health and Employment.)
It is also important to look at the rise in sanctions.
These are the figures available in January this year: (ITV News)
There has been no sudden rise in the numbers of people with these difficulties.
We can conclude that people with these problems are particularly hit.
In other words, the effect of sanctions regime is to punish the vulnerable.
The benefit sanctions regime should be scrapped !