Disability news

PM wants to crack down on people suffering with mental health claiming disability benefits

Rishi Sunak

Prime minister Rishi Sunak intends to clamp down on people claiming disability benefits because they are living with a mental health condition.

The PM wants to explore a system which will see people with a mental illness receiving the right treatment or access to services instead of claiming personal independence payment [PIP], which financially supports individuals living with a long-term disability or health issues.

The conservative party leader also challenged if some disabled people should be entitled to one-off payments in place of their recurring PIP allowance.

His comments today, Friday 19th April, has sparked criticism from leading charities who say the number of disabled people signed off work is a result of inadequate public services, low paid jobs and high rates of poverty amongst disabled households.

A spokesperson for Mind said services supporting people suffering from their mental health is “at breaking point”.

The PM is proud that the UK has a strong stable net of welfare payments for those who need them, although he stressed the country has a “sicknote culture” which needs to be addressed.

Mr Sunak believes “something has gone wrong” since lockdown with a dramatic increase in the number of people claiming disability benefits because they are suffering with their mental health.

“Most worrying, the biggest proportion of long-term sickness came from young people … parked on welfare,” he said.

The PM went on to say the UK could not afford the “spiralling” disability welfare bill amounting to £69 billion and the Pip budget was set to rise by 50 percent over the next four years.

Other measures the Prime Minister set out included:

  • Shifting responsibility for issuing “fit notes” away from GPs to other “work and health professionals” in order to encourage more people to get back into work.
  • Confirming plans to legislate “in the next parliament” to close benefit claims for anyone who has been claiming for 12 months but is not complying with conditions on accepting available work.
  • Asking more people on universal credit to look for more work by increasing the earnings threshold from £743 a week to £892 a week, so people paid below this amount have to seek extra hours.
  • Confirming plans to tighten the work capability assessment to require more people with “less severe conditions” to seek some forms of employment.

Mr Sunak said his government would assess if people wanting to claim disability benefits should provide further medical evidence about their conditions, because a number of payments are being handed out on the basis of “subjective and unverifiable claims”.

[ Almost 2 million people in England are on NHS waiting lists for mental health treatment. ]

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