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Church warns of unfair sanctions against those experiencing mental heath problems


The Methodist Church in England fears that people with mental health problems are experiencing sanctions on their benefits at a possible rate of 100 people a day, more than claimants suffering other conditions, according to figures presented to them by the DWP.

In March last year 4,500 people who are claiming Employment and Support Allowance due to mental heath issues were sanctioned, this figure was not the total amount as it did not include overturned decisions. The concern the Methodist Church had from these findings is that those with mental health conditions who failed to attend the Work Programme interviews and other appointments were being unfairly treated, or even discriminated due to their lack of cognitive ability and general condition of mental heath. DWP records also revealed the most common reason for being sanctioned is a person has been late or not turned up for a work programme appointment.

Public issues policy adviser , Paul Morrison for the Methodist Church, said: ‘Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping.’ adding,  ‘The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed.’

The 100 a day figure was an average from data stretching back to January 2009 obtained through Freedom of Information Requests to the Department for Work and Pensions, released yesterday.

The “Work Programme” was set up 2011 at a cost of £5 billion, with it’s aim to ‘encourage’ and provide access to people with disabilities a opportunity to find work and enter the job market but since it’s inception it’s continually been cited as a failure with homelessness charities and housing associations even being among those who have abandoned it. It’s failure has been down to lack of employment in areas, the reduction of hours and wages in-line with the increased cost of living, and also the lack of commitment from the majority of employers to take on people with mental or physical disability.

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