Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence

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 of Scotland.

  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 of this.

    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 work

    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 to work.

    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.

Graham Morgan

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