Today’s Guest Author slot is given over to an unexpected facet of World Mental Health Day – clinical depression caused or exacerbated by the financial pressure experienced by Universal Credit claimants.
Today is World Mental Health Day – and a Scarborough Borough Councillor has expressed concerns about the detrimental impact welfare changes are having on the mental health of benefit claimants.
Cllr. Donohue-Moncrieff stated;
“On 10th October, there will be various agencies making positive comments about Mental Health. While this is very welcome those affected by mental health issues need this attention 365 days a year.”
Scarborough Borough Council reports make regular reference to the financial difficulties new claimants of Universal Credit face. Sadly, however, there is no mention of the impact on claimants’ mental health or information about any action being taken to support those struggling to cope.
Commenting further, Cllr. Donohue-Moncrieff added;
“Scarborough Borough Council has for some years being dealing with the impact of welfare reforms to Council Tax, Housing Benefit and now Universal Credit. It is extremely worrying that according to a recent Freedom of Information Request the Council has not carried out an equalities assessment since 2011. From personal experience, I am deeply concerned that the Council doesn’t see mental health as an equalities issue to be considered when making decisions that affect some of our most vulnerable residents.”
“I know of one Employment and Support Allowance claimant with long term mental health issues who eventually got their claim backdated after an error by the Department of Work & Pensions. However, SBC refused to backdate their Council Tax support which put them under more financial pressure.”
Mental health charities cite the lack of permanent secure housing – and the fact that financial pressures are significant factors affecting mental health.
Said Cllr. Donohue-Moncrieff:
“As the low wage capital of the country our residents, whether they are working or claiming benefits, are exposed to these risks on a daily basis. The constant struggle to makes ends meet or not being able to afford the rent can seriously affect the mental health of anyone. I am deeply concerned that we are treating these issues as separate and not part of a bigger picture”.