People with mental health problems bear the brunt of benefit sanctions in Wales
04 August 2015
A shocking new report by a group of Christian churches shows
that people with poor mental health are bearing the brunt of one of
the Westminster Government's policies aimed at getting people back
to work. The Welsh Data Supplement to the report Time to rethink
Benefit Sanctions will be launched in the churches' tent at the
National Eisteddfod in Meifod on Wednesday 5th August at 1pm. The
event will hear the stories of some of those who have suffered from
Benefit claimants who fail to keep appointments or fulfil their
other conditions can be sanctioned, losing all benefit for periods
of weeks or months at a time. The Welsh Data Supplement shows that
two-thirds of those sanctioned in Wales are unfit for work because
of mental health problems - more than in the rest of the UK. It is
likely that the sanctions add to the worry and stress which already
cause such difficulty for these people.
In his Preface to the report, Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd
Dr Barry Morgan says, "The results are shocking: large numbers of
people, particularly those judged unfit for work due to mental
health problems, are being punished ... by the withholding of their
Chair of Synod Cymru of the Methodist Church, Revd Jennifer
Hurd, said, "Over a third of those who are told they may be
sanctioned in fact find their sanction is cancelled because of a
bureaucratic error. But in the meantime, they will have suffered
additional unnecessary stress and anxiety, waiting to find out if
their support is to be cut off."
Moderator of the United Reformed Church in Wales, Revd Simon
Walkling, said, "This is a shocking report, and confirms what
churches find in their work on the ground with Foodbanks, debt
counselling services and other projects helping those in need in
their communities. That is why our churches have said that in
Wales, as in the rest of the UK, it is time to rethink benefit
- The report
Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions was produced in March 2015 by
Church Action on Poverty and the Joint Public Issues Team of the
Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the United
Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland, in partnership with the
Church in Wales.
- The Welsh Data Supplement was published in July 2015 by the
same churches. The report and the supplement can be accessed
- The Presbyterian Church of Wales General Assembly in July 2015
gave formal endorsement to the report.
- The launch of the Welsh Data Supplement is hosted by the
churches' tent at the National Eisteddfod, co-ordinated by Cytûn:
Churches Together in Wales. All the churches named above (other
than the Church of Scotland) are members of Cytûn.
- The true accounts of those who have suffered benefit sanctions
will be told by staff members of Sylfaen from Caernarfon. Details
of Sylfaen's work can be found at: www.sylfaencymunedol.org.
- Staff from Sylfaen and church leaders will be available for
interview on Wednesday 5th August, both before and after the launch
event at 1pm. Please contact Revd Gethin Rhys (07889 858062) to
arrange an interview.