Our response to new action requiring government to improve treatment of benefits claimants living with a mental illness

20 April 2022

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has announced it will require the Department of Work and Pensions to improve its treatment of people living with disabilities, including mental illnesses, through a legally-binding agreement.

This follows serious concerns about failings of the benefits system, which have been linked to deaths and serious harm. Rethink Mental Illness has been supporting bereaved families to call for answers and urgent action to stop more lives from being lost.

Alex Kennedy, Head of Campaigns, Rethink Mental Illness, said:

"When someone isn’t able to work due to a disability, including those living with a severe mental illness, they deserve decency, respect and the right support, which the current benefits system too often fails to provide. This has led to unnecessary, premature deaths and immense loss. Families grieving their loved ones and those currently struggling to survive deserve urgent change.

“We welcome the news that the EHRC is taking action to tackle these serious problems with the way that disabled people, including people living with mental illness, are treated by the benefits system. This is yet more evidence that the deaths and serious harm suffered by people who should be supported by the DWP are part of a systemic problem. To restore public trust in the benefit system, we need a full public inquiry and a new, independent process to investigate future cases of death and serious harm."