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JRF response to The Lancet study on Universal Credit and mental health

Iain Porter, Policy & Partnerships Manager at the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, responded to a new study by The Lancet Public Health estimating the mental health impact of welfare reform on unemployed recipients 

“Our social security system should provide a public service people can turn to when they hit hard times. There is nothing compassionate or just about the roll out of Universal Credit increasing levels of anxiety and stress among low-income families. Delays in payments, the complexity of the claiming process and the unpredictability of financial support is forcing too many people into a corner leaving them facing impossible situations.

“We know from speaking to claimants that without urgent reforms to Universal Credit there is a real risk of confidence and trust in the system being irreversibly damaged. The Government must work alongside claimants to redesign the system so it treats everyone with dignity and respect. Ministers can begin by ending the minimum five-week wait for their first payment which is trapping people into poverty and debt.”

Effects on mental health of a UK welfare reform, Universal Credit: a longitudinal controlled study

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