IT is a measure of the confusion and flaws besetting the benefits system that what should be a support mechanism for the most vulnerable too often adds to their difficulties.
Such is the case with today’s findings by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute that those with mental problems are suffering unnecessary distress because of the bureaucracy and red tape involved in claiming benefits.
This is an unacceptable state of affairs, not least because of the number of people on benefits who suffer some form of mental health issue.
The institute points out that 47 per cent of claimants have a common condition such as depression or anxiety.
It cannot be right to leave almost half of all claimants in the position of trying to navigate a system that throws up obstacles to their understanding or ability to cope.
As the institute points out, the result is not only distress – which is bad enough – but the prospect of people missing out on support which they both need and are entitled to.
The recent history of the benefits system as a whole is, to say the least, regrettable. The botched introduction of universal credit, which left some claimants penniless and facing destitution remains a stain on the Government’s record and it is far from certain the problems in the system are anywhere near being fixed.
Added to this, the difficulties the system as a whole is throwing up for those with mental health problems suggests that the time has come for a sensible and thorough review of the way benefits work and the procedures for claiming them.
It surely cannot be beyond the Government’s ability to come up with a clear and straightforward system for claiming benefits that can be understood by all, and provides help when it is needed.