To the fully justified concerns that the work capability assessment process is severely damaging mental health, provided by the peer review study from the University of Liverpool (Letters, 24 November), can be added the profound concerns about the link between debt and mental illness highlighted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, along with the poor maternal nutrition, low birth weight and developmental brain disorders in children highlighted by the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition. It is also important to provide minimum incomes needed for healthy living, in both work and unemployment, and to address the 17-year gap in expectation of life between the most deprived areas of the UK and the richest (Opinion, 30 November).
Ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions will have an opportunity to answer all these concerns when responding on Monday to Lord Ramsbotham’s amendments to the welfare reform and work bill, which require the secretary of state to report to parliament on the impact of benefit sanctions on the mental and physical health of men, women and children in workless households, and in working households of incomes below the national minimum wage.
Baroness Hollins, Baroness Manzoor, Lord Ramsbotham, Rev Paul Nicolson
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