Inquiry into disability benefits ‘deluged’ by tales of despair

From The Guardian: A House of Commons inquiry into disability benefits has heard from more than 3,000 people in despair at the system, including dozens who say they have been driven to suicidal thoughts by the process.

The evidence includes testimony from many saying their mental health had deteriorated as a result of trying to claim the employment support allowance (ESA) for daily living costs and/or the personal independence payment (PIP) to cover the extra costs caused by long-term disability.

It comes after longstanding concerns among mental health groups, medical professionals, user groups and MPs about the operation of both benefits, which see claimant assessments run by outsourced providers and final decisions made by officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The submissions included more than 100 people reporting that they or someone they care for feels their suicidal feelings have worsened or been triggered by the process. Read more

‘I have lost hope’: the people with mental health problems who are being stripped of their benefits

From The Guardian: Daniel O’Connor, 64, from Glasgow, has led a tough life. He has severe depression and adjustment disorder, and has twice attempted to end his life. O’Connor had been receiving DLA for nearly 22 years when, this year, his application for a PIP was rejected. Since then, he has experienced financial hardship and says his condition has worsened. O’Connor says he felt as if he wasn’t being listened to at his PIP assessment and recalls telling the assessor that on some days he struggles to get out of bed because his depression is so debilitating. However, his assessor dismissed his story, citing the fact that he could drive as evidence of his ability to carry out everyday tasks. “We got to discussing a previous suicide attempt I had [made],” he says.

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Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt admits false claims over mental health

From Channel 4 News: The Tory health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been forced to re-write parliamentary records after making a false claim about mental health.

Speaking on World Mental Health Day, he told MPs: “We’ve got 30,000 more people working in mental health today than we had when [Labour] left office.”

He repeated this again, saying: “We have 30,000 more professionals working in mental health than when my Government came into office.”

But when questioned by FactCheck, the Department for Health admitted that Mr Hunt’s figure includes all professionally qualified clinical NHS staff in England – not just those working in mental health.

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Zero-hours contracts are ‘bad for your health’, says study

From Welfare Weekly: Young people on zero-hours contracts are less likely to be in good health and more likely to suffer from mental health problems, according to the findings of a new study published today.

Researchers from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, based at the University College London, analysed data from more than 7,700 people living in England who were born in 1989-90 as part of its ‘Next Steps‘ study.

Those aged under the age of 25 and in zero-hours employment were less likely to report they were feeling healthy, when compared to those in secure employment.

Zero-hours employment is notoriously insecure and the contracts offer no guarantee of hours, and those on the contracts are often denied the same rights as other workers in more secure employment.

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