Social Security Benefits: Mental Illness

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Mohammad Yasin Mohammad Yasin Labour, Bedford

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the potential additional barriers people with mental health problems experience in applying for benefits during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Ministers and officials of both Departments hold regular discussions relating to the ongoing covid-19 outbreak including its impact on people with health conditions.

My Department has provided mental health training for staff who have direct contact with claimants, including all Work Coaches, to equip them to identify mental wellbeing issues or vulnerabilities, and to take appropriate action to support individuals. Work Coaches will tailor support to the needs of the individual and work closely with local organisations that provide additional specialist support.


Mental wellbeing training has been provided for all staff (around 30,000 colleagues trained to date) who have direct contact with customers (including via telephone).

Staff have also had specific training to help them to identify vulnerable people, and signpost or refer them to further support provided by local partners. Every jobcentre has a complex needs toolkit containing links to local organisations to facilitate this.

Since the start of the pandemic we’ve introduced online claim application processes for ESA and Pension Credit claimants (telephony options still exist). And we’ve also introduced new services for deaf claimants.

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