People with mental health problems bear the brunt of benefit sanctions in Wales

  • #RethinkSanctions

A shocking new report by a group of Christian churches showsthat people with poor mental health are bearing the brunt of one ofthe Westminster Government's policies aimed at getting people backto work. The Welsh Data Supplement to the report Time to rethinkBenefit Sanctions will be launched in the churches' tent at theNational Eisteddfod in Meifod on Wednesday 5th August at 1pm. Theevent will hear the stories of some of those who have suffered fromsanctions.

Benefit claimants who fail to keep appointments or fulfil theirother conditions can be sanctioned, losing all benefit for periodsof weeks or months at a time. The Welsh Data Supplement shows thattwo-thirds of those sanctioned in Wales are unfit for work becauseof mental health problems - more than in the rest of the UK. It islikely that the sanctions add to the worry and stress which alreadycause such difficulty for these people.

In his Preface to the report, Archbishop of Wales, the Most RevdDr Barry Morgan says, "The results are shocking: large numbers ofpeople, particularly those judged unfit for work due to mentalhealth problems, are being punished ... by the withholding of theirincome."

Chair of Synod Cymru of the Methodist Church, Revd JenniferHurd, said, "Over a third of those who are told they may besanctioned in fact find their sanction is cancelled because of abureaucratic error. But in the meantime, they will have sufferedadditional unnecessary stress and anxiety, waiting to find out iftheir support is to be cut off."

Moderator of the United Reformed Church in Wales, Revd SimonWalkling, said, "This is a shocking report, and confirms whatchurches find in their work on the ground with Foodbanks, debtcounselling services and other projects helping those in need intheir communities. That is why our churches have said that inWales, as in the rest of the UK, it is time to rethink benefitsanctions"


  1. The report Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions was produced in March 2015 byChurch Action on Poverty and the Joint Public Issues Team of theBaptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the UnitedReformed Church and the Church of Scotland, in partnership with theChurch in Wales.
  2. The Welsh Data Supplement was published in July 2015 by thesame churches. The report and the supplement can be accessed here.  
  3. The Presbyterian Church of Wales General Assembly in July 2015gave formal endorsement to the report.
  4. The launch of the Welsh Data Supplement is hosted by thechurches' tent at the National Eisteddfod, co-ordinated by Cytûn:Churches Together in Wales. All the churches named above (otherthan the Church of Scotland) are members of Cytûn.
  5. The true accounts of those who have suffered benefit sanctionswill be told by staff members of Sylfaen from Caernarfon. Detailsof Sylfaen's work can be found at: www.sylfaencymunedol.org.
  6. Staff from Sylfaen and church leaders will be available forinterview on Wednesday 5th August, both before and after the launchevent at 1pm. Please contact Revd Gethin Rhys (07889 858062) toarrange an interview.