Opinion Former Article

Rethink: Liberal Democrats must vote to protect the vulnerable

The charity Rethink Mental Illness is calling on Liberal Democrats to vote in favor of a motion opposing aspects of the Welfare Reform Bill at their party conference tomorrow (Saturday 17 September).

The charity is extremely concerned about changes to the benefits system which mean thousands of people currently receiving incapacity benefit are being put through a rigid new assessment to decide if they are fit for work.

This means that some of the most vulnerable people in our society, those with a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, are being put through an extremely stressful assessment process that the government itself admits is deeply flawed. Over 40% of appeals are successful and that figure rises significantly when claimants receive support and advice from a third party.

More than 87% of people with a mental illness surveyed by Rethink Mental Illness said they found their assessment stressful and 80% said the test has made their mental health worse.

Rethink Mental Illness is calling on all Liberal Democrats to support the motion which calls on the government to make changes including ensuring greater accuracy in the assessments, particularly for people with fluctuating conditions such as mental illness.

Rethink Mental Illness CEO Paul Jenkins said: “The mass reassessment is causing widespread fear and anxiety among people with a severe mental illness. Many of our members and supporters have been in touch to tell us that it’s making their mental health worse and some have even said it’s making them feel suicidal. People are telling us they're dropping out of claiming a benefit they’re entitled to because the experience is so traumatising.”

“At Lib Dem Spring conference, delegates made a stand on the proposed NHS reforms and this resulted in real changes in coalition policy. This Autumn they have a chance to make a stand on welfare reform too. This vote is a golden opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to send a clear message to government that they are not willing to stand by while over a million people are subjected to this unfair process. I urge all members to support the motion and seize this chance to protect vulnerable people".


For more information, please contact Elaine Calvert, Media Relations Manager for Rethink Mental Illness on 2027 840 3129/07764614113 or email Elaine.calvert@rethink.org

Notes to Editors
Rethink Mental Illness, the leading national mental health membership charity, works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness recover a better quality of life.
Rethink Mental Illness helps more than 52,000 people each year through its services and support groups and by providing information on mental illness.
Our website www.rethink.org receives more than 500,000 visitors every year.

Rachel Whitehead
Senior Media Relations Officer, Rethink Mental Illness
020 7840 3138
07971 971315

Working together to help everyone affected by
severe mental illness recover a better quality of life.

89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP

Follow Rethink on Twitter @Rethink_

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