Social Security Benefits: Mental Illness

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 6th February 2019.

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Photo of Angela Crawley Angela Crawley Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Disabilities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Pensions), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Youth affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Children and Families), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress she has made in enabling greater access to (a) personal independence payments and (b) employment support allowance for people with mental health difficulties.

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

We are committed to supporting those with mental health conditions get the benefits they are entitled to. All people claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) are encouraged to bring a companion to them to their face-to-face assessment and safeguards are in place for those with a mental health condition and who are without access to a support network, for example family, friends or other advisers. Latest statistics show that under PIP the proportion of recipients with a mental health condition getting the top rates of support is over five times higher compared to Disability Living Allowance (DLA): 31% under PIP compared 6% under DLA.

As part of the Government’s continuous improvements of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) now has a greater focus on the impact of mental health conditions on claimants’ capability to work. A number of safeguards were built into the WCA from the outset, and we have introduced further improvements to try and ensure the process deals with people with mental health conditions fairly and accurately.

All healthcare professionals carrying out assessments, whether for PIP or for the WCA, are given specific training in assessing individuals with mental health conditions and receive continuing professional education in order to remain up to speed with developments in the field of mental health.

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