“Hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants face being stripped of their state allowances if they refuse to undergo treatment for anxiety and depression, under radical plans being drawn up by ministers,” reported Britain’s Telegraph last month. “The government is piloting ways to get more people with mental health problems into work by combining earlier treatment with employment support,” confirmed BBC News. “The Department for Work and Pensions said treatment would not be mandatory in the pilot scheme but that remained an ‘idea’ for the future.” The whole plan is a “cruel concept,” said a commentary in The Guardian today that drew more attention to the pilot program.
A government report in January said many people with mental health problems who are collecting social welfare do not get treatment, and proposed supporting “early intervention” programs for them. The UK government already has another pilot project running in which people obtaining sickness benefits are being forced to have regular visits with government-appointed health professionals.
“Where will all the mental health experts necessary for treating 260,000 [Employment and Support Allowance] claimants come from?” asked Kit Marsters in a Guardian commentary. “How qualified are they? How long will the treatment be available for? What happens when a person’s mental health does not improve at a rate that is agreeable? Will they be sanctioned? How can a person be expected to feel less anxious and less depressed when they are living with the fear of losing their benefits?”
Linking mental health treatment to job support is a cruel concept (The Guardian, August 6, 2014)
Benefit claimants who refuse treatment for depression face having handouts axed (Daily Express, July 13, 2014)
Tories discuss stripping benefits claimants who refuse treatment for depression (The Telegraph, July 12, 2014)
Mental health job support scheme piloted (BBC News, July 13, 2014)
Pilot schemes to help people on sickness benefits back to work (UK Department for Work and Pensions Press Release, November 4, 2013)
Psychological Wellbeing and Work (Rand Europe and UK Department for Work and Pensions Report. January 2014.)