Memorandum submitted by the Highland Users
Group after the publication of the Welfare Reform Green Paper
The Highland users group is an organisation
of people with experience of mental ill health living in the Highlands
We are making this initial response to the green
paper by consulting a group of active hug members but will follow
this up at a later date with a consultation throughout our entire
network. This will not be complete until after the consultation
deadline. We would be happy to discuss specific questions with
our network at a later stage.
Our initial reaction to these reforms is:
We are very alarmed and concerned that people
with a mental illness will be forced into work when not capable
We know that many of our members may appear capable
but in fact despite appearances may not be able to sustain employment.
We know that discrimination is widespread so
do not understand how people with a mental illness will get into
Many of our members are already deeply concerned
by these proposals and we fear that their health will suffer especially
when being assessed for work or made to look for work.
We worry that the emphasis is that we could work
but many of us feel increasingly guilty about not being able to
work and many already feel there is a public perception that we
are frauds when in fact we struggle with everyday existence.
We know that many workplaces are mentally unhealthy
and would not support our members sufficiently if they returned
We do not find present assessments helpful and
find the assessors lack experience of the reality and fluctuating
nature of mental illness.
We do not think that employers have enough support
to help us retain employment.
Encouraging us to seek employment is not a bad
thing but compelling us would be disastrous.
Instead of harassing us we would recommend work
to encourage employers to change.
We do worry that although there is some fraud
that there is more money lost throough mistakes rather and tax
evasion than through fraud.