Flaws within the Universal Credit framework are hindering many thousands of people from getting the help they need as they engage with the benefits system.
That’s according to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, which has raised concerns that huge numbers of people with mental health problems across the UK are being left to apply for Universal Credit alone when they clearly need help in doing so.
Applicants for Universal Credit are allowed to nominate one person who can then legally help them with their applications but that nomination process has been described as incorporating some “absurd” and “needless” design flaws.
According to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, those flaws are potentially leaving more than 100,000 people who suffer with high levels of mental distress facing massive problems as they come to engage with the Universal Credit system.
In practice, an inability to manage your Universal Credit account can often result in being sanctioned and having benefit payments reduced or even cut off entirely.
The policy institute has said it fears what might happen later this year when the government-backed support scheme for furloughed employees comes to an end.
For all those reasons, the charity has said it wants to see the government taking urgent action to fix the aspects of its benefits system that makes it so difficult for individuals to designate loved ones as their helpers and their Universal Credit account managers.
A new campaign to that end has been created by the organisation and is being called ‘Set Up To Fail’ based on the assertion that too many people with mental health problems aren’t being given a fair chance to access benefit payments they ought to be entitled to.
“It sounds like a scene from a spoof,” said Martin Lewis, the chair and founder of the Money and Mental Health Policy institute.
“People who are entitled to Universal Credit, sometimes due to mental health problems, which impact their ability to fill in forms or process complex information, are allowed to nominate someone to help them with the admin needed to keep receiving benefits.
“Yet to do that, they must go through a complex process which requires them to do the exact things they need help with in the first place.
“This is one Universal Credit problem the government can easily fix, by providing people with the right advice on how to nominate a loved one to help them, and by making the process to do it much easier, simpler and user-friendly.”
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