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People, Not Tick Boxes: Mind calls for rebuild of the disability benefits system

19 October 2020

The mental health charity Mind has published a report that sets out what it has heard from hundreds of people with mental health problems, and sets out a case for five changes that would make sure the benefits system treats all with dignity and respect.

Mind highlights that each year there are nearly 700,000 claims to benefits like ESA and PIP made by people with mental health problems.

When things go right it says, those benefits mean that people who are unwell can get the security they need to focus on moving forward with their lives, to build connections with other people and to live more independently.

However, too often the process of trying to get that help is making people more unwell:

“In 2015 we worked with YouGov to survey more than a thousand people with mental health problems about the things that made a difference to their health.

Of those who had considered or attempted suicide, nearly a third said that the fear of losing benefits was a factor.

There is no evidence to indicate that things have got any better since this time.”

The five changes that Mind argue would make sure the benefits system treats all of us with dignity and respect are:

  • An independent regulator for the benefits system would redress the imbalance of power, which leaves so many of us struggling to challenge inaccurate decisions.
  • A clearer route to long-term awards would reduce the burden of repeated assessments on people who are already unwell.
  • Giving people more choice over the method of assessment would help make sure that all disabled people have the opportunity to put their case across and get a fair hearing.
  • An independent commission led by disabled people would give people with experience of the system a role in designing the future of disability benefits assessments.
  • An end to benefit sanctions for disabled people would give people who are unable to work the financial security and peace of mind needed to stay well and move forward with their lives

 Mind concludes that:

“The five solutions in this report do not represent a comprehensive roadmap for fixing all the problems of the benefits system. Instead they are an important first step towards building a more compassionate approach to disability benefits.

All of us should be able to turn to a benefits system that’s there when we need it. We should know that we’ll get a fair hearing, that we’ll be listened to and taken seriously. And benefits should give us the security we need to focus on . forward with our lives.

Politicians and policymakers need to show leadership in building a benefits system which respects the rights of people claiming benefits, and which treats everyone who needs support with compassion, dignity and respect.”

People, Not Tick Boxes: A call to rebuild the disability benefits system is available from mind.org.uk.