20 February 2017
In a joint response with other leading psychological bodies to a Government consultation the British Psychological Society has called for the suspension of the benefit sanctions system.
The Government should suspend its benefit sanctions system as it fails to get people back to work and damages their mental health, says the BPS and other leading UK psychological bodies.
The bodies highlight evidence that sanctions, or the threat of sanctions (benefit cuts following a claimant’s failure to comply with jobcentre conditions, e.g. missing an appointment with their work coach) can result in destitution, hardship, widespread anxiety and feelings of disempowerment.
The call came in a joint response to the Government’s consultation, ‘Improving Lives’, from the British Psychological Society, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Psychoanalytic Council, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and the UK Council for Psychotherapy.
Findings from the National Audit Office show that there is limited evidence the sanctions system actually works, or is cost effective. The bodies argue that the Government needs to change focus from trying to make unemployment less attractive, to trying to make employment more attractive.
BPS President Professor Peter Kinderman said:
“We call for the benefits sanctions regime to be suspended until the completion of an independent review of their impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing
While there is evidence that the sanctions process is undermining mental health and wellbeing, there is no clear evidence that it leads to increased employment. Vulnerable people with specific multiple and complex needs are being disproportionately affected by the increased use of sanctions.”
In order to improve mental health, the bodies have also called for: