The RCPsych has worked on matters related to welfare reform since the introduction of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) in 2008.
The most recent and important changes to social security benefits were brought in under a Welfare Reform Bill introduced to Parliament in February 2011, when 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.
The College has continuing concerns about the impact of these changes on people with mental health conditions 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. In doing so we have liaised with other disability organisations 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
In 2013 other significant changes were made to Legal Aid