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British Psychological Society signs statement opposing welfare sanctions

30 November 2016

The report published yesterday by the National Audit Office confirming that there is no clear evidence welfare sanctions work confirms key concerns of the main psychological therapy organisations.

A statement signed by representatives of the five organisations says:

The sanctions process may be detrimental to people’s mental health and wellbeing.  Whilst the utility of the sanctions process rests on the assumption that job centre clients are insufficiently motivated to seek work; an estimated 86-90% of people with mental health conditions that are not in employment want to work.  The links between the sanctions regime and the mental health and wellbeing of individuals should be subject to an independent review.

International evidence indicates that benefit sanctions substantially raise exits from benefits, and may increase short-term job entry; but there are unfavourable longer-term outcomes for earnings, job quality and employment retention.

Not only are we concerned that the sanctions process is undermining mental health and wellbeing – there is no clear evidence of pay-off in terms of increased employment and no commitment from the Government to investigate how the jobcentre systems and requirements may themselves be exacerbating mental health problems.  We continue to call on the Government to address these concerns and suspend the use of sanctions subject to the outcomes of an independent review.

The five organisations backing the statement are the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the British Psychoanalytic Council, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Association for Behavioural and Cogntive Psychotherapies and the British Psychological Society.


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