True cost of benefits cuts to people with mental illness
July 27, 2015
Charities have warned that that benefits cuts could lead to greater costs down the line as people with mental illness are forced to fall back on other forms of support putting more of a strain on public services.
Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and a number of other charities have released new data ahead of today's emergency Budget, revealing that many vulnerable people would have to seek help from other sources if their benefits were cut, potentially leading to greater costs to the public purse further down the line.
Rethink Mental Illness polled over 900 people with mental health problems receiving support from benefits. When asked what they thought would happen if this support was cut:
78 per cent of respondents said they would need more support from their GP, community health services or inpatient mental health services
87 per cent of respondents said they would not be able to sustain a good quality of life
87 per cent of respondents said they would not be able to cover their household bills, accommodation and food costs
69 per cent of respondents said they would find it harder to stay in/return to work and education
67 per cent of respondents who were accessing benefits said they wanted to work or were looking for work, with 33 per cent stating that work was not possible for them at the moment.
In a joint statement, Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, The Mental Health Foundation, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Centre For Mental Health, Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health (NIAMH) and The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) said:
“We know that many people with mental health problems who are not in work would like to be, but face huge barriers because of the impact of their illness and the stigma and discrimination they often face from employers.
Support from benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance simply enables people to cover their basic needs while concentrating on getting well. Ninety per cent of people we surveyed said benefits enable them to pay their household bills, accommodation costs or food bills.
“We are concerned that without this support, people on the way to recovery will suddenly come up against financial hardship and distress, and will have to access healthcare services for support instead, like their GP or local mental health teams.
“The danger is that money saved on welfare could then put pressure on the NHS and local services further down the line. We are calling on the Government to take into account the impact any cuts to benefits may have on people with mental health problems and for them to indicate how they will mitigate against these.”