Cardiff MP backs campaign to improve benefits test for people with mental illness

September 13, 2013 2:38 PM

Jenny Willott, MP for Cardiff Central, has backed a campaign by the national charity Rethink Mental Illness to improve the Government's fit-for-work test for people with mental illness.

Jenny Willott MP at the MP Capability Assessment in Westminster with a Rethink campaigner.Ms Willott pledged her support for the campaign after taking part in an event in Westminster this week (Wednesday 11th September), where the charity's supporters asked MPs to prove they are fit for their jobs.

The event was organised by Rethink Mental Illness to give MPs a deeper insight into the difficulties with the current fit-for-work benefits tests.

Ms Willott went through an MP Capability Assessment, which mirrors the Work Capability Assessment, the test used by the Government to decide whether thousands of people with mental illness and other disabilities, are entitled to financial support.

Roughly 20,000 people are going through the process every week, however in a recent court case (1) three judges found that the tests put people with mental health problems at a 'substantial disadvantage'.

In August, Ms Willott received letters from Rethink activists in Cardiff Central, similar to those sent by the Government, summoning her to yesterday's assessment. She was asked to bring proof of identity and 'evidence demonstrating your ability to be an MP.'

Lara Carmona, Head of Campaigns for Rethink Mental Illness said: "This was obviously a slightly tongue in cheek exercise, but there is a very serious message underpinning it. Just as our MP Capability Assessment doesn't accurately reflect Jenny Willott's ability to be an MP, neither does the Work Capability Assessment fairly judge whether someone with mental illness is able to work.

"That's why we are delighted that Jenny has backed our call for the Government to make the fit-for-week test fair for people with mental illness. The system isn't working, and it's in everyone's interests that we have a fair and accurate assessment process, which gets it right the first time. It could make a huge difference to some of the most vulnerable people in Cardiff."

Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness.

For 40 years we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people's lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness.

We directly support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone.

We give information and advice to 500,000 more and we change policy for millions.

For more information go to www.rethink.org

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