MENTAL health problems are being made worse because of “complex” and “stressful” Universal Credit and benefit applications.
According to new research from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI), nine in ten (94 per cent) feel anxious about the benefits process.
Alamy Stressful Universal Credit applications is making people’s mental health worse
And four in five (82 per cent) struggle to gather the right information and medical evidence when applying for benefits.
In addition, nine in 10 (93 per cent) see their mental health deteriorate while they wait to attend a benefits medical assessment.
The charity says nearly half (47 per cent) of working age people receiving out-of-work benefits in England have a mental health problem, such as depression and anxiety.
But it warns that sufferers can struggle to navigate the benefits system because of symptoms such as reduced concentration, an impulsive nature and memory problems.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit WorkUNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the Government to:
Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
The report also found that less than one in five (19 per cent) feel their benefits assessor understood the impact of their mental health problems.
Others (81 per cent) felt their mental health meant they couldn’t challenge benefits decisions.
The MMHPI is now calling on the Government to put specific support in place for people with severe mental health problems who are accessing benefits.
Here at The Sun, we’re also campaigning to Make Universal Credit Work.
We want to see people being paid faster, claimants being allowed to keep more of what they earn, and families getting upfront help with childcare costs.
Helen Undy, chief executive of the MMHPI, said: “Accessing the benefits system can be a difficult task for anyone, but if you’re struggling with your mental health it can feel almost impossible.
“The obstacles that people with mental health problems face at every stage of the system not only cause unnecessary distress, they’re also resulting in people missing out on crucial support they are entitled to, or falling out of the system entirely.”
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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says staff are trained to work with people suffering from mental health issues and adds that claimants may also qualify for an “alternate payment arrangement”.
This can mean you get payments more frequently than monthly, that rent payments go directly to landlords or that benefits payments are split between spouses.
A spokesperson for the DWP said: “Universal Credit is a force for good, and where challenges remain we will continue to make improvements.
“We are committed to supporting the most vulnerable claimants and our new partnership with Citizens Advice will provide further tailored help.”
ExclusiveON THE BREADLINE I have £1.80 a day to feed my family after 7-week Universal Credit delay EXTRA HELP Over 3m on benefits and Universal Credit missing out on £1,200 Help to Save cash YOU’RE KIDDING 93,000 parents on Universal Credit fail to claim back childcare costs CREDIT CRISIS 250k Brits to LOSE cash after ‘accidentally’ going onto Universal Credit ALL OUT Hundreds of Universal Credit workers vote to STRIKE
It comes as recent research reveals that93,000 parents on Universal Credit fail to claim back childcare costs even though they are entitled to.
Meanwhile, more than 3million people on benefits and Universal Credit are missing out on £1,200 from the Government’s Help to Save scheme.
And there are fears Brits on Universal Credit could have problems answered by ROBOTS in future.
Struggling mum tries to feed family with £1.80 a day after 7-week Universal Credit delay left her skint
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