The mentally ill are bearing the brunt of benefit sanctions in Wales

A poster against benefits sanctions in Salford.

People with mental health problems in Wales are being punished for their conditions by benefit sanctions – or the threat of them, according to research by a group of Christian churches.

Two-thirds of those who are sanctioned in Wales are unfit for work because of mental health problems – more than in the rest of the UK. It is likely that the sanctions add to the worry and stress which already cause terrible difficulty for these people.

The information is revealed in the Welsh Data Supplement to the report Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions, which will be launched in the churches’ tent at the National Eisteddfod in Meifod on Wednesday (August 5), starting at 1pm. The event will hear the stories of some of those who have suffered from sanctions.

In his Preface to the report, the Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, states: “The results are shocking: large numbers of people, particularly those judged unfit for work due to mental health problems, are being punished … by the withholding of their income.”

Chair of Synod Cymru of the Methodist Church, Revd Jennifer Hurd, added, “Over a third of those who are told they may be sanctioned in fact find their sanction is cancelled because of a bureaucratic error. But in the meantime, they will have suffered additional unnecessary stress and anxiety, waiting to find out if their support is to be cut off.”

Moderator of the United Reformed Church in Wales, Revd Simon Walkling, said, “This is a shocking report, and confirms what churches find in their work on the ground with food banks, debt counselling services and other projects helping those in need in their communities. That is why our churches have said that in Wales, as in the rest of the UK, it is time to rethink benefit sanctions.”

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5 thoughts on “The mentally ill are bearing the brunt of benefit sanctions in Wales

  1. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    No civilized country should allow this dreadful deprivation to continue and those causing it should be ostracised and removed from government. This government has caused more misery for ill people than any other that I have read about since the last war and I am thankful that at long last we have hope for a new leader: JEREMY CORBYN to head a new government.

    1. Maggie Wallace

      Totally agree Rupert! I don’t live in Wales, but have family there. And holiday there. Hate to think that folks who have mental health difficulties appear to be targeted for sanctions.

  2. sasson1

    It’s heartbreaking to think just how many people will have to suffer like this over the next 5 years. How many more deaths? How many more people starving for months at a time? How many left without any income at all whilst waiting for appeals for PIP/ESA decisions.

    I don’t think that some of us can wait 5 years. On top of everything else, I’ve suspected angina now. I think it’s been brought about by a combination of the fear – after labour lost the election – that at any time I might lose my income and my home, and additional extreme deterioration of my physical health. Over the last 2 months, if I’d been your dog you would have just put me out of my misery.

    Now I suspect, a severely mentally ill relative has reported me to social services, claiming that I’m not ill and I’m falsely being provided with care. Every year over the last 6 years of being forced to give up work, I’ve had Performance Measurement visits of one kind of another, accused of housing benefit fraud on my doorstep (I could prove them wrong instantly with the correct paperwork at hand), and many different assessments. It’s just too much.

    I have PTSD, but that came about primarily due to the nerve pain I was suffering, supposedly the ‘worst pain known to man’, but no one believed me until my family paid for a private consultant. I’m still having to fight to have my physical health problems recognised and treated appropriately, but it’s been a hard journey, much humiliation along the way, and all of this impacts on your mental health.

    I completely empathise with these poor people that are facing such similar humiliations of constant monitoring and threats to remove their income, never knowing if they’ll be eating next week or not, and the consequential impact on their existing psychological pain. No wonder male suicide is the greatest cause of death within a certain age group.

    Something has to be done now. I don’t know what; after all some of the largest disability organisations have made numerous reports about these things, but it falls on deaf ears. The U.N. are investigating, but what can they do? Their report on housing did nothing to help all of those who lost their homes. I’ve also seen a hardening of peoples’ attitudes towards those who even die due to the welfare reforms.

    Well, whatever is done, I doubt I’ll be around to see it. Every day, my thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering: God sees all, and he won’t forget.

  3. mrmarcpc

    It won’t just be Wales’s mentally ill who will have to go through this torment, the whole of the UK’s mentally ill will be put through this hell, everyone of us will suffer under these Nazis in pinstripes!

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