Nine times more people have been sanctioned under new Universal Credit rules, according to new research published by mental health charity Mind.
The new system sees people who need support from benefits having their financial support cut or stopped entirely for failing to attend appointments with a work coach or JobCentre Plus advisor.
The figures, published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), show that sanctions under Universal Credit are “at least nine times higher than the benefits it is replacing”. Likewise, the most recent data shows that 2.8 per cent of people saw their benefits drop due to Universal Credit sanctions compared to 0.3 per cent under the older Job Seekers Allowance.
Commenting on the figures, Mind says the Government is not making exceptions for people who aren’t able to work due to mental health problems.
Ayaz Manji, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind, said: “We have long been warning the Government that a punitive approach towards people who are out of work because of their health or disability is not only ineffective but is causing a great deal of distress.
“In addition to the harm they cause, sanctions are counter-productive, causing many people with mental health problems to become even more unwell and move further from hopes of getting back into paid employment as a result.”
Mind says it is hearing from an increasing number of people with mental health problems who are struggling to cope with the tighter controlled Universal Credit requirements.
The charity has “urgently” called on the Government to put safeguards in place to protect people who are unwell and in need of state support.