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The DWP must see that a bad job is worse for your mental health than unemployment

We, the UK’s leading bodies representing psychologists, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and counsellors, call on the Government to immediately suspend the benefits sanctions system. It fails to get people back to work and damages their mental health.

Findings from the National Audit Office (NAO) show limited evidence that the sanctions system actually works, or is cost effective.

But, even more worrying, we see evidence from NHS Health Scotland, the Centre for Welfare Conditionality hosted by the University of York, and others, which links sanctions to destitution, disempowerment, and increased rates of mental health problems. This is also emphasised in the recent Public Accounts Committee report, which states that the unexplained variations in the use of benefits sanctions are unacceptable and must be addressed.

Vulnerable people with multiple and complex needs, in particular, are disproportionately affected by the increased use of sanctions.

Therefore, we call on the Government to suspend the benefits sanctions regime and undertake an independent review of its impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

But suspending the sanctions system alone is not enough. We believe the Government also has to change its focus from making unemployment less attractive, to making employment more attractive – which means a wholesale review of the back to work system.

We want to see a range of policy changes to promote mental health and wellbeing. These include increased mental health awareness training for Jobcentre staff – and reform of the work capability assessment (WCA), which may be psychologically damaging, and lacks clear evidence of reliability or effectiveness.

We urge the Government to rethink the Jobcentre’s role from not only increasing employment, but also ensuring the quality of that employment, given that bad jobs can be more damaging to mental health than unemployment.

This should be backed up with the development of statutory support for creating psychologically healthy workplaces.

These policies would begin to take us towards a welfare and employment system that promotes mental health and wellbeing, rather than one that undermines and damages it.

Professor Peter Kinderman, President, British Psychological Society (BPS)

Martin Pollecoff, Chair, UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)

Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

Helen Morgan, Chair, British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)

Steve Flatt, Trustee, British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)

Speaking plaidly

How sad that nationalists, including an SNP MP, have felt the need to misrepresent what London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on his visit to the Labour conference in Scotland. Khan did not say that nationalism was the same as racism. He did, rightly, say that nationalism is divisive and that we all in Britain would do better to cooperate with each other and pull together. 

We could do with plainer speaking of this kind from our pro-union politicians. 

Jill Stephenson

Glenlockhart Valley

It’s unsurprising that London Mayor and respected politician, Sadiq Khan, is criticised by Nicola Sturgeon for appearing to suggest the SNP’s raison d’etre is bigoted and racist.

The perception of many from other parts of the UK who have made their homes in Scotland, is that the SNP prefer any and every European nationality to the Welsh, Northern Irish and, particularly, the English. And if anyone from these other three nations living here speaks out against nationalism, it’s frequently made clear, and especially on social media, they have no right to express a view – and are free to leave. 

Sturgeon responds to Khan by emphasising her oft-repeated claim that her party’s separatist cause is about “inclusion”. Nonsense. It’s about division. The SNP want to divide up the UK, separating us from our southern neighbours. 

To date, the nationalist leader’s UK break-up dreams have succeeded in turning one Scot against another. Family member against family member, friend against friend, co-worker against co-worker and neighbour against neighbour. Yet, of course, her intention goes much further. 

Rather than tweeting predictable nationalist dogma, Sturgeon would be better advised to reflect on Khan’s wise words about the importance of unity in these divisive times. 

Martin Redfern 

Edinburgh 

The Remain Party

If the next election is 2020 then there is time for the creation of a new party, the Remain Party, to present a direct and unambiguous manifesto commitment to keep the UK in the EU. A second referendum may not be achievable under the present regime but the will of the people could be ascertained in a general election.

Electorates are showing a willingness to travel down new paths, not all of them virtuous. Here is an opportunity for boldness to be our friend.

I would both stand as and/or vote for a Remain candidate.

Steve Ford

Haydon Bridge

Just about coping

I think the voters of Copeland have been very clever in electing a Tory MP.

Just watch how the maternity hospital will be miraculously saved by the suddenly caring government.

Suddenly the roads will widen and they would be joined up again to the national rail network etc. Bunting and frolics all round. Dream on.

Mike Fishler

Northumberland

Before May gets overexcited, I hope she will note that of those who voted in Copeland, when taken in total, most did not vote Conservative.

Ian Turnbull

Cumbria  

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