There has long been anecdotal evidence that benefit sanctions have a detrimental effect on disabled people. Evidence from a newly published longitudinal study on ‘welfare conditionality’ (i.e. benefit sanctions), conducted by a consortium of UK universities and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council confirms this, particularly for those disabled people who have mental health problems. Key findings from this research include:
* welfare conditionality does little to facilitate those on incapacity benefits into paid work; instead, benefit sanctions are more likely to move disabled people away from the paid labour market
* welfare conditionality exacerbates existing illnesses and impairments
* the work capability assessment is intrusive and regularly leads to inappropriate outcomes
* much of the mandatory training and job search support available to disabled people is poor quality and largely ineffective
Given these findings, Mental Health Nurse Academics UK (MHNAUK) agrees with the key policy recommendations of this research report, in particular the cessation of welfare conditionality for those on incapacity benefits and the introduction of more humane alternatives to the Work Capability Assessment. MHNAUK urges the UK and devolved governments to take heed of this important research.