Posted on 2nd October, 2012
A new benefits advice referral service for people with mental health problems moving towards work, is available from 1 October
People who experience severe and enduring mental health problems have one of the lowest employment rates. Only one user in five of specialist mental health services either has paid work or is in full-time education. However, if properly supported, many are able to work and pursue careers and this can have many positive outcomes, including increased income and improvements in health and well-being.
The benefits system is often seen as a barrier to people with mental health problems taking work. People worry that they will be worse off, or that there will be a long delay in payment following changes of circumstances or that, if they get ill again, they will not easily be able to regain entitlement to benefit. In addition, there have been, and will continue to be, major changes in benefits and tax credits. These changes are particularly challenging for people with mental health problems, and many need to support to deal with them.
Following the success of a similar project for adults with learning disabilities, Devon County Council, Workways and Jobcentre Plus are working in partnership with Devon Welfare Rights Unit (part of Citizens Advice) to deliver a full benefit check service for up to 150 people aged over 18 and of working age with mental health problems. The service will include ‘better off in work’ calculations.
This service will be provided by an adviser from Devon Welfare Rights Unit when work is being considered, offered or required over an 18 month period. The adviser will carry out a detailed review of benefit entitlement to ensure both that people are in receipt of their full benefit entitlement and to inform them of the effect of taking work on their income.
This support can be carried out by home visit or organisations can host half-day or full day ‘surgeries’ at mutually agreed venues.
The service is available from 1st October 2012 for people living in Exeter, East Devon and Mid Devon. It may be extended to other parts of Devon from April 2013.
To find out more about the project and to make a referral, contact:
Vincent Willson of Devon Welfare Rights Unit by:
Tel: 01392 223831
11 - 15 Dix's Field
Tel: 01392 677050