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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Welfare Reform and Mental Health

Under a Welfare Reform Bill introduced to Parliament in February 2011, the UK Government announced proposals for reforms to the entire structure of the benefits system. This represented the biggest overhaul to the benefits system for very many years. The government aims were to simplify the benefits system, make it less costly to administer and to increase incentives to seek work.

The Bill became law in 2012.  Many of the changes introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 came into effect on 1  April 2013.

Briefing on Welfare Reform

The College has concerns about the impact of these changes on people with mental health problems and those with learning disabilities as they are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. We wish to see a fair benefits system that does not disadvantage people with mental health problems. Our welfare system must protect and support people particularly when they are at their most vulnerable. It should also empower them to lead the lives they wish to lead.

The College has monitored the governments welfare reform proposals by providing expert knowledge and advice.  I doing so we have liaised with other disability charities in the Disability Benefits Consortium.

Key changes from 1 April 2013

·         Universal Credit

·         Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

·         Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

·         Benefit Cap

·         Bedroom Tax

·         Council Tax

·         Benefit uprating

·         Legal Aid

What's New: 

1. The Royal College of Psychiatrists release a joint response to the Fifth Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment Call for Evidence.


2. The DBC (Disability Benefits Consortium) release their response to Year 5 of DWP's Independent Review of the WCA (Work Capability Assessment) by Dr Litchfield.


3.  The DBC (Disability Benefits Consortium) release their response to the Independent Review of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Sep 2014.


4. Fulfilling Potential -  ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group

Based on data from a range of people with mental and physical health problems, a report launched in June 2014 has found that the back to work support provided through the Work Programme is causing severe anxiety for people with disabilities and pushing them further from the job market.


5. How to Appeal Against a Decision made by the DWP

HM Courts and Tribunals Service have produced a guidance to help anyone wishing to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions.


6.   Submission to the Work and Pensions Committee Inquiry

The Royal College of Psychiatrists contributed to a joint submission to the Work and Pension’s inquiry into ESA and the WCA.


7.    Providing Clinical Evidence  for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA)

The Royal College of Psychiatrists have produced guidance for clinicians providing accurate medical evidence for the WCA.


8.    Judicial Review and Work Capability Assessment (WCA)

In May 2013 a Judicial Review ruled that people with mental health problems are put at “substantial disadvantage” through the WCA.  The DWP appealed against the ruling, but on December 4th 2013 the Court of Appeal dismissed the government’s appeal, so the Judicial Review will proceed.



9.    Litchfield Review of Work Capability Assessment (WCA)

On 12 December 2013 the Department for Work and Pensions published its 4th independent review of the WCA, conducted by Dr Paul Litchfield.



10.    New report on welfare advice for people with mental health problems

On 3 December 2013 the Centre for Mental Health launched their new report on “Welfare advice for people who use mental health services. Developing the business case”



11.   Rethink publishes new Benefits Pack – Benefits Update. How the Changes will affect you


12.     DWP Response to the Disability Benefits Consortium report on PIP Assessment Providers


13.     Globally youth unemployment nears crisis peak

A UN agency, the International Labour Organisation, reports that global youth unemployment has risen to near its crisis peak and predicted it will keep rising over the next five years. The report Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 reports a rate of unemployment of 12.6% in people aged 15-24 years.

We have also responded to other consultations



For more information contact Masood Khan