How your experiences of the welfare system can help to change it


Policy and Research Officer Eva Bell explains what the new Health and Disability Green Paper and National Disability Strategy are, how they affect people living with mental illness, and what you can do to get involved.

The government introduced two new policy documents in late July: The Health and Disability Green Paper and the National Disability Strategy. They have several different aims and objectives but importantly both have the potential to be important for people severely affected by mental illness. We want to make sure that the views of those living with mental illness and their carers are taken into consideration as the government moves forward with them.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published the Shaping future support: Health and Disability Green Paper. This is the first formal step by government in reviewing how the welfare system and the ways in which people are supported into work can better meet the needs of disabled people. Importantly, while the paper has a wider focus, it acknowledges that mental illness is one of the most common reasons for claiming disability benefits. The DWP will be receptive to input from people experiencing mental illness. The consultation process is now open until October and we want to hear your voices.

The DWP state that they want their proposals to be guided by three main principles:
• Enabling independent living, including equal access to services.
• Improving employment outcomes, including providing more tailored support for people both in and out of work.
• Improving the experience of people using DWP services, including finding more ways to offer support and making services easier to use.

There are five areas they are looking to improve in the welfare system and are consulting on:
• Providing the right support;
• Improving employment support;
• Improving current services;
• Rethinking future assessments to support better outcomes;
• Exploring ways to improve the design of the benefits system.

This is where you come in; over the coming weeks, we will be speaking to people living with mental illness who have experience of the welfare system. This will inform our response and recommendations. 

The Green Paper feeds into a larger cross-governmental strategy which was also published last month. The National Disability Strategy, is aiming to centralise the commitments and efforts of government departments to improve the lives of disabled people across different areas of society. It outlines actions and accountability for them, alongside a commitment to publish an annual report measuring progress on this strategy.

It can be quite intimidating that two important documents are published that have the power to affect the way people severely affected by mental illness live their everyday lives. We will continue to monitor the commitments made in this strategy and look at opportunities where we can influence key decision makers to ensure that people experiencing mental illness and their carers are considered at every step.

If you have any experiences of the welfare system or thoughts you would like to share with us, please contact our Campaigns Team at