Government benefits to discriminate against those with mental health issues
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New guidelines have revealed the government’s plans to discriminate against those with mental health issues by cutting their essential benefits. The Department for Work and Pensions has asked their disability benefits assessors to discriminate against those who have mental health disorders such as anxiety, cutting benefits entirely or giving them less than those who have issues physically. The Personal Independence Payment benefit, known as PIP, is given to assist with living costs and extra expenses caused by disabilities, including carers or therapy sessions. Despite such expenses being essential in helping those with anxiety live normal lives, the new guidelines have described impairments caused by such psychological issues as “not relevant”, regardless of the fact that many are suffering with similar symptoms with those with physical ailments. The assessors, who award benefits with a points system surrounding a person’s needs, were told that those whose mobility is affected because of a mental health condition should not be entitled to receive the mobility component of the PIP benefit, even if they have the same limitations as a person with a physical ability. In an interview with the BBC, Conservative MP George Freeman said: "These tweaks are actually about rolling back some bizarre decisions by tribunals that now mean benefits are being given to people who are taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety. "We want to make sure we get the money to the really disabled people who need it." His comments have since been criticised by disability charity Scope, who criticised the discrimination of mental health issues. Scope chief executive Mark Atkinson told the BBC: "It is unhelpful to make crude distinctions between those with physical impairments and mental health issues because the kind of impairment someone has is not a good indicator of the costs they will face.” Although the changes were being brought into play without a vote, an online campaign is currently running and asking for 500,000 signatures in order to force a vote in the houses of parliament.
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