Mental health charity refutes Esther McVey's suggestion they support Universal Credit

Mental health charity refutes Esther McVey's suggestion they support Universal Credit

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The mental health charity Mind has responded to work and pensions secretary Esther McVey’s assertion that they were in favour of Universal Credit by reiterating their concerns.

During a speech in parliament on Monday November 5, Ms McVey said: “Other charities have been saying, ‘this department now is listening to what claimants are saying, other charities are saying, MPs are saying.

“Trussell Trust have said that, Gingerbread have said that, Mind have said that.”


'Confirmed our worst fears'

In a Twitter thread, the charity posted several of its reactions to Universal Credit proposals.

In July, director of external relations Sophie Corlett said: “We are hugely concerned about the ramifications of these proposals, which leave open the real possibility that many people with mental health problems could see their benefits stopped entirely while they struggle with the process of applying for Universal Credit”.

After the Budget, chief executive Paul Farmer said that “if the government is really intent on prioritising mental health, it needs to guarantee nobody with mental health problems will be left without their income as a result of moving to Universal Credit."

Ms McVey confirmed on Monday that benefit claimants would have to file a new claim when the welfare system in their area moved to Universal Credit, but that the waiting time for initial payments had been cut from five weeks to three.

Mind’s head of policy and campaigns Vicki Nash responded to that announcement yesterday.

“The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey mentioned Mind in her Universal Credit regulations statement.

"We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Department for Work and Pensions about UC and the regulations and so wanted to make it clear where we stand on the issue,” she said.

“These regulations confirmed our worst fears - that in the move over to UC three million people, including hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems, will be forced to make a new claim.

“This risks many being left without income and pushed into poverty. The regulations have done little to meet this fundamental problem - as it stands there is still no safety net for people before or during the move to UC.

“The Government must do the right thing and withdraw these regulations, before they fall squarely on some of the most vulnerable in society.”


'Vote against the regulations'

In a further tweet, the charity said: “We remain clear that new #UniversalCredit regulations don't go far enough.

“We won't stop campaigning until we get a benefits system that really works for people with mental health problems.”

They also urged MPs to vote against the regulations and urged people to become Mind campaigners.

Universal Credit is being rolled out across the country and replaces six benefits: housing benefit, jobseekers allowance (income-based), employment and support allowance (income-related), income support, child tax credits and working tax credits.