People suffering from depression or anxiety could lose access to sickness benefits as part of the Government’s major welfare reforms, the Work and Pensions Secretary has said.

It comes as Mel Stride is set to announce plans to overhaul the way disability benefits work in a statement to the Commons on Monday, with proposals aimed at providing “more tailored support in line with their needs”.

In a Green Paper due to be published alongside Mr Stride’s statement, ministers will set out plans to reform personal independence payments (PIP), the main disability benefit, through changes to eligibility criteria and assessments.

The plans are also set to include proposals to “move away from a fixed cash benefit system”, meaning people with some conditions will no longer receive regular payments but rather improved access to treatment if their condition does not involve extra costs.

Discussing the matter with The Times, Mr Stride suggested this would mean people with “milder mental health conditions” would no longer receive financial support.

People with depression and anxiety to lose benefits

Monday’s proposals follow a speech in which the Prime Minister announced major changes to the welfare system earlier this month, saying “people with less severe mental health conditions should be expected to engage with the world of work”.

Mr Stride said the system should not be paying people to deal with the “ordinary difficulties of life” and suggested that many voters “deep down” agree with him.

Describing the reforms as “probably the most fundamental reforms in a generation”, he said: “There are those that have perhaps milder mental health conditions, or where perhaps there has been too great a move towards labelling certain behaviours as having certain (medical) conditions attached to them, where actually work is the answer or part of the answer.

“What we’ve got to avoid is being in a situation where we too readily say ‘Well, actually, we need you to be on benefits’.”


DWP paying £737 to anyone with these mental health disorders

Mr Stride said a “whole plethora of things”, such as talking therapies, social care packages and respite care, could be used as alternatives to benefit payments.

He added that the main reason for the changes is to provide better help and not cut costs, but he acknowledged the cost “has to be one of the considerations”.

The number of monthly PIP awards for mental health disorders has doubled since 2019, from 2,200 to 5,300, in line with an increase in overall PIP awards which have also doubled to 33,000 a month.