FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Money and Mental Health backs Lords call for faster, more flexible benefit payments
Mental health charity, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, today backed calls from the House of Lords to end unfair delays in benefit payments that are contributing to stress, poor mental health, financial exclusion and problem debt.
A new report from the House of Lords Financial Exclusion Committee, out today, has called on the Government, FCA and banks to do more to tackle ‘unacceptable’ levels of financial exclusion.
The report’s recommendations include:
- That the Government abolish the seven-day wait before a claimant becomes entitled to Universal Credit, and also that it should allow more flexibility about whether payments are made monthly or more frequently.
- That the Government, the FCA and the British Bankers Association should carry out a review of reasonable adjustments for disabled customers, including those with mental health problems, and publish that review within 18 months.
- That restrictions should be introduced by the FCA to control forms of high-cost credit such as ‘rent to own’ products and unarranged overdraft fees.
Commenting, Polly Mackenzie, Director of The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said:
“Long waits for benefits mean more stress, worse mental health, more problem debt, and more families struggling to get by. So it’s great the committee has backed our calls to end the seven-day wait before people are allowed to claim Universal Credit. The combination of this seven-day wait, and the fact that Universal Credit is paid monthly, means that most claimants have to wait at least six weeks before their first payment arrives. Few people who are out of work can manage six weeks on no income without resorting to paying their rent and food bills using credit cards, payday loans, or money borrowed from family.
“For too long it’s been assumed that when people with mental health problems get behind on bills, or struggle to stick to their budget, it’s because they’re lazy or incompetent. That’s simply not true, and we are delighted to see the Lords committee recognise this and the need for banks to step up and offer support. It’s time for banks to adapt their services to help support people when they’re unwell – just as they do to help people with physical disabilities who struggle to access a branch or engage on the phone. We strongly endorse the committee’s call for a review of reasonable adjustments for disabled customers, including those with mental health problems.”
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Notes to Editors
- The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute was set up by Martin Lewis in spring 2016, registered charity number 1166493.
- It conducts research and develops policies for banks, lenders, regulators, the health service and government to help people with mental health problems protect themselves from financial difficulties and get out of debt.
- Polly Mackenzie is the Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. She was previously Director of Policy for the Deputy Prime Minister, working in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office, from 2010-2015.
- Martin Lewis OBE, Money Saving Expert, is an award-winning campaigning broadcaster, newspaper columnist and author. He founded MoneySavingExpert.com in 2003 for £100 and remains its full-time Editor-in- Chief. It is now the UK’s biggest money site, with more than 14 million monthly users. Martin has his own prime-time ITV programme – The Martin Lewis Money Show – and is resident expert on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Consumer Panel, among others.