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Our opposition to benefit sanctions is debated on a flagship BBC political programme

18 December 2017

The British Psychological Society was quoted by Andrew Marr yesterday when he interviewed the work and pensions secretary David Gauke.

Pressing him on the effect of benefit sanctions, Marr quoted an open letter to The Independent signed by representatives of the BPS and the other leading UK psychotherapy organisations.

The letter called on the government, in the words quoted by Andrew Marr, to “immediately suspend the benefits sanctions system” because:

“We see evidence … which links sanctions to destitution, disempowerment, and increased rates of mental health problems …

“Vulnerable people with multiple and complex needs, in particular, are disproportionately affected.”

In reply, David Gauke emphasised that work can help people’s mental health, while Andrew Marr mentioned that the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee have both criticised the Department for Work and Pension for not knowing enough about the effect of sanctions

You can watch the interview with David Gauke on the BBC iPlayer – the views of the BPS and other psychotherapy organisations are quoted from 06:18.

The Society’s call for the suspension of benefit sanctions was repeated in our report Psychology at Work, which was launched last month.

It said sanctions should be suspended pending an independent review into the link between their use and their impact on the mental health and wellbeing of claimants.

The report called on the government to commit to an end-to-end review of the Work Capability Assessment process in order to bring about the culture change needed to make it beneficial. 

Psychology at Work also made recommendations for creating a psychologically healthy workplace and supporting neurodiverse people at work.

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