Budget 2017: Universal Credit changes welcomed but still could mean five week wait for payments, says Mind
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, responds to the Budget announcements around Universal Credit and NHS funding.
On Universal Credit
The Government’s decision to scrap the seven day wait before people are entitled to Universal Credit payments is a step in the right direction, but in practice this still could mean a five week wait for payments to actually come through. This is far too long to wait for people with mental health problems who have fallen out of work and who may not have savings to fall back upon. Speeding up access to advanced payments is also welcome but time will tell whether this is sufficient – we know that the system can be hard for some people with mental health problems to navigate. Alongside recent cuts to Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit, and restrictions to Personal Independence Payment for people with mental health problems, changes to benefits are having a real impact on people’s financial security, and fuelling a cycle of debt, housing problems and poor mental health.
We need to see the Government take action to make sure that people with mental health problems can get the financial support they need to stay well. People should be eligible for Universal Credit from the day they first claim and no-one should have to wait longer than two weeks for their first payment.
On NHS funding
Additional funding for the NHS is welcome. The NHS has committed to spending an extra £1bn on NHS mental health services by 2020-21 but Simon Stevens indicated in a speech two weeks ago that this was under threat if additional funding overall was not forthcoming. We need an urgent recommitment from the Department of Health and the NHS that the money promised will be made available.”