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DWP sanctions and conditionality succeed in not helping disabled people into work and harm their mental health

19 October 2018

Disabled People’s Experiences of the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group.

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New research, by the University of Essex for DR UK member Inclusion London, shows benefit sanctions and conditions are pushing disabled people further from employment

The researchers explored disabled people’s experience of being placed in the ESA’s Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) after a Work Capability Assessment. WRAG claimants are deemed suitable for some work related activity and failure to engage can lead to ESA payments being cut or ‘sanctioned’.

The research team found all participants experienced significantly detrimental effects on their mental health.

The impact of sanctions was life threatening for some. For many, the underlying fear from the threat of sanctions meant living in a state of constant anxiety. This state of chronic fear can make it harder for people to engage in work-related activity and was made worse by the unpredictable way conditionality was applied, leaving some participants unsure of how to avoid sanctions.

Dr Danny Taggart, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Essex, said:

“More research needs to be undertaken to understand how to best support disabled people into meaningful vocational activity, something that both the government and a majority of disabled people want. This study adds further evidence to support any future research being undertaken in collaboration with disabled people’s organisations who are better able to understand the needs of disabled people.”