Today’s World Mental Health Day (October 10) should be the catalyst for Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey to scrap the controversial Universal Credit (UC) welfare system, Unite has said.
Unite, which embraces the Mental Health Nurses Association (MHNA), said that the flawed and unfair system should be scrapped and needs to be ‘rebalanced’ as a welfare system that takes into account people’s needs.
Unite’s call is reinforced by reports that Esther McVey told cabinet colleagues that millions of families could lose £200 a month under UC. In January 2019, six million households will begin to be moved onto UC.
Unite head of community Liane Groves said, “The government’s claim that Universal Credit will make things better for claimants is based on a fallacious premise underpinned by a harsh right-wing ideology.
“Where UC has been introduced it has caused tens of thousands of people to fall into debt, rent arrears, and to become reliant on food banks. Low paid part-time workers will be affected, as well as the unemployed and people on disability benefits.
“World Mental Health Day should be a catalyst for Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey to scrap this callous scheme and rebalance the welfare system so that people are treated with dignity and according to their genuine needs and not as a tick box austerity-driven exercise.”
Some UC claimants have mental health issues and the MHNA has written to Ms McVey expressing its serious concerns about the ‘devastating negative impact’ of the current benefits assessment process.
In a letter to Ms McVey, Unite lead professional officer for mental health Dave Munday said, “People with complex needs are forced into a process which is long, complicated and does not recognise their personal abilities, strengths and circumstances.
“It is also clear that with the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) across England, that this will only make matters much worse, especially for those living with mental ill health. Unite believes that Universal Credit is not fit for purpose.
“The process of rolling Universal Credit out must be stopped immediately and the system scrapped. A future benefits system must be rebalanced in order to take account of people’s needs and strengths.”