People with mental health problems “three times more likely to run out of money within a week” during pandemic
16 June 2020
People with mental health problems will be hit harder by loss of income — and are at greater risk of deprivation — than the wider population during the coronavirus crisis.
That is the message of a new report published today (16 June) by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, looking at how the pandemic has affected the income of people with mental health problems.
Based on new Populus polling (1), the report shows that people with experience of mental health problems entered the current crisis in a more financially precarious position — with average annual household income for this group £5,700 lower than the rest of the population (2).
The research highlights that as a result of this greater financial precarity, people with mental health problems are likely to be hit harder by any loss of income resulting from the pandemic, and are more exposed to financial hardship.
It reveals that people with experience of mental health problems would be three times more likely to run out of money within a week if they lost their main source of income. 13% of people with experience of mental health problems could not make ends meet for even one week in that scenario, compared to 4% of people who have never experienced a mental health problem.
Moreover, the research shows that the pandemic has already affected the finances of many people with experience of mental health problems — with around two in five (38%) having seen a drop in income since the outbreak began. Nearly a third (31%) say they have cut back on essentials such as food and heating to make ends meet during the crisis.
The charity is calling on the government to increase the scale and timeliness of financial support for people facing financial difficulty during the pandemic. That includes making initial Universal Credit payments available as grants that people do not have to pay back — rather than the loans currently offered, which are resulting in greater debt for already financially fragile households.
It is also calling on the government to ensure that employers do not discriminate against workers with mental health problems, as it winds up its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme later this summer — and when jobs will be at risk (3).
Commenting on the research, Katie Alpin, Interim Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said:
“The coronavirus crisis has exposed the serious financial disadvantages that some sectors of society face, and that’s particularly true for those affected by mental health problems. Many people in this group were in a more precarious financial situation before the current crisis began, and will be hit harder by the economic shocks resulting from it.
“The government needs to go further to reduce the risk of hardship for those with mental health problems. That means making sure that people don’t end up further in debt while they’re waiting for support from the benefits system, and that workers with mental health problems don’t lose out when the furlough scheme is wound down.”
Today, the charity is also launching the Mental Health and Income Commission, to explore how people’s mental health affects the income they receive through work, benefits or other sources.
The Commission will feature Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the RSA), Jo Bibby (Director of Health at the Health Foundation) and Paul Farmer (Chief Executive of Mind) among others. It will publish a number of reports throughout 2020, exploring what a fairer labour market and welfare system would look like for people with mental health problems.
- Case studies are available
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Notes to Editors
- Based on a nationally representative poll of 2,096 people aged 18 and over, conducted 7-10 May and carried out by Populus. Our findings split that population into those respondents who have ever experienced mental health problems (32%) and those who have not (61%)
- Average household income before tax for people with experience of mental health problems is £30,000, compared to £35,700 for those who have never experienced mental health problems (£35,700)
- From September 2020, the government will begin to phase out the furlough scheme by decreasing payments by 10%.
About the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is an independent charity set up by Martin Lewis, and committed to breaking the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems. We conduct research, develop practical policy solutions and work in partnership with both those providing services and those using them to find what really works. www.moneyandmentalhealth.org