Ending benefit sanctions

The welfare system is putting millions of people under strain at a time when they need more help than ever. Rethink Mental Illness is calling on the Government to take the pressure off people who need benefits by bringing back the emergency pause on benefit conditions and sanctions which they introduced during the first wave of Covid-19.

Millions of people are facing unemployment at a time when our mental health is also suffering. Yet people supported by benefits have the added fear that the money they need could be taken away through a sanction if they can’t jump through the system’s hoops.

With a mental health and unemployment crisis underway, we believe that piling pressure on people supported by benefits will only serve to make a hard winter even harder.

The answer is straightforward: End benefit sanctions.

In March 2020, the Government reacted to the first wave of Covid-19 by suspending benefit conditionality and sanctions - removing the fear that people have of having their benefits taken away. We’re calling on the Government to do the right thing again and take the pressure off by suspending benefit conditionality and sanctions for the next six months. Join us by signing our petition to end benefit sanctions.

Take the pressure off

Suspending conditionality and sanctions for six months would take the pressure off millions of people during this unprecedented crisis. But we also need to see long-term change.

The stress that people living with mental illness are put under by the benefit system often makes it harder to find a job, not easier. Katie told us about how she had been sanctioned for volunteering because she was not considered available for work, even though she applied for, and got, a job that same week.  Losing her benefits made her eating disorder worse, as she spent her limited money on her rent instead of food.  That’s no way to support someone back to work. Read Katie’s story here.

That’s why, as well as taking the pressure off by pausing benefit conditions and sanctions for six months, we are also calling for the Government to use that time to improve employment support for people living with a mental illness and to set out how they will end sanctions for disabled people for good.

Our calls to the Government

  1. Suspend conditionality and sanctions for six months

  2. Urgently improve the benefits system for people living with mental illness and other disabled people

  3. Provide bespoke support for people living with mental illness

Sign our petition

We’re calling on the government to take the pressure off for people living with mental illness by ending benefit sanctions. Make your voice heard by adding your name to our petition today.

Sign our petition now

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