Esther McVey recently referenced Mind in a speech about Universal Credit. The mental health charity decided to reaffirm their position on the much-criticised new benefit in this Twitter thread.
Responding to the noise on social media, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns said:
“The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey mentioned Mind in her Universal Credit (UC) regulations statement. We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Department for Work and Pensions about UC and the regulations and so wanted to make it clear where we stand on the issue.
“These regulations confirmed our worst fears – that in the move over to UC three million people, including hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems, will be forced to make a new claim. This risks many being left without income and pushed into poverty. The regulations have done little to meet this fundamental problem – as it stands there is still no safety net for people before or during the move to UC.
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“The Government must do the right thing and withdraw these regulations, before they fall squarely on some of the most vulnerable in society.”
Myles is 47 and lives in Thurrock in Essex. He has depression and personality disorder, as well as some physical health problems. Myles currently receives income-based ESA and is extremely concerned about the prospect of moving onto UC. He says:
“I’ve had numerous problems with benefits in the past. In 2014, I lost nine months’ worth of money amounting to around £3000 due to an error resulting from a change in circumstances, which I informed the DWP about. Eventually I got the money back but that was ‘the year that broke me’, I had even made plans to end my life. It wasn’t just about losing my benefits, I also didn’t want my marriage to end and I’d also lost my voluntary work lecturing students at a local university. Everything had been taken away. I went into a tailspin, laying on the sofa for days, not getting up, not washing. I was the image that comes into people’s minds when asked to picture someone with depression. I was like that for many months.
“I live in Thurrock, the constituency of Jackie Doyle-Price who is the Minister for Mental Health and has responsibility for suicide prevention. The Government need to consider the role benefits play in people becoming suicidal. I dread the thought of having to apply for UC. Ever since I lost that money, I’m scared – every time a letter comes through the door with the letters ‘DWP’ on it. The DWP should take responsibility for transferring people onto this new benefit rather than expecting vulnerable people to shoulder it all themselves.”