ESA sanctions ranked by disability in the period up to January 2014: Notice that mental illness attracted by far the largest number of sanctions.

The British Psychological Society has called for the suspension of the benefit sanctions system, in a joint response with other leading psychological bodies to a Government consultation.

The call links in with evidence provided by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.

The organisations have also supported the possibility of a Universal Basic Income that would support incentive-led initiatives to get people back to work.

Sanctions fail to get people back to work and damages their mental health, according to the BPS and other bodies.

They highlight evidence that sanctions, or the threat of sanctions (benefit cuts following a claimant’s failure to comply with jobcentre conditions such as missing an appointment with their work coach) can result in destitution, hardship, widespread anxiety and feelings of disempowerment.

“Whilst the sanctions process is undermining mental health and wellbeing – there is no clear evidence of pay off in terms of increased employment,” the organisations say in their response.

“We reiterate our call on the Government to address these concerns and suspend the use of sanctions subject to the outcomes of an independent review of the links between the sanctions regime and the mental health and wellbeing of individuals.

“We also encourage the Government to consider the promotion of the use of incentives for individuals rather than punitive measures to encourage job uptake.

“We could provide both academic and practitioner psychological literature which could make a major contribution to informing evidence-based policy development in this area.

“The Government should also play close attention to the trials of “citizen’s income” (also known as basic income) around the world, which if demonstrated to be effective may potentially provide a template for a benefits system with a clearer incentive structure to work without the psychologically and materially damaging elements of conditionality and sanctions.”

The call came in a joint response to the Government’s consultation, ‘Improving Lives’, from the British Psychological Society, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Psychoanalytic Council, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

Findings from the National Audit Office  show that there is limited evidence the sanctions system actually works, or is cost effective.

Source: British Psychological Society calls for the Government to suspend its benefits sanctions system | Benefit tales

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