Government back-to-work scheme failing thousands with mental health problems

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Posted on 17/09/2015

The latest statistics* from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveal that less than 9 per cent of people with mental health problems currently being supported by Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have been helped into a job by the Work Programme, the Government’s flagship back-to-work scheme.

This is deeply concerning given the high proportion of people with mental health problems currently claiming the out-of-work disability benefit ESA. Around half of all ESA claimants are receiving this support primarily due to their mental health problems.

Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, said:

 

"Time and time again we’ve seen just how few people with mental health problems are successfully helped into jobs by the Work Programme, and these latest figures show that there’s been little improvement. This scheme is failing people with mental health problems because they aren’t given the right support. If you have a mental health problem, CV-writing workshops will not help you overcome crippling anxiety or suicidal thoughts, and the threat of losing your benefits if you don’t comply is highly likely to make you far more unwell, not more motivated. This flawed, punitive approach is backfiring, making thousands more unwell and pushing them further away from work."

 

"We welcome the Government’s aspiration of halving the disability employment gap by helping a million more disabled people into work, but this will only happen if bold reforms are made. It’s high time the government faced up to the fact that their current approach just isn't working for people with mental health problems and needs a fundamental rethink. Mind is calling on Employment Minister Priti Patel to radically overhaul the benefits system, to one with less focus on pressurising people and greater investment in tailored, personalised support. We want everyone with a mental health problem who is currently on the Work Programme taken off this scheme and offered support which acknowledge and address the challenges they face in getting and keeping a job."

* Of 165,860 people with ‘Mental and Behavioural Disorders’ placed on the Work Programme, 14,720 have been supported into employment (8.9 per cent)

 

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