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Welfare reforms have pushed up anxiety levels

UK survey shows 83% are more stressed or anxious

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 13 May 2013

The government’s welfare reform shake-up has caused anxiety and stress to soar, claims a major charity.

Anxiety UK, the country’s leading anxiety disorders charity, say changes to the government’s welfare reform agenda and housing benefit are having a seriously detrimental effect on people with an existing anxiety disorder.

The introduction of Personal Independent Payment (PIP) for 16-64 year olds on or after 8 April 2013 and the reduction of housing benefit for those who live in a property deemed to be under-occupied – the so called “bedroom tax” – have contributed to growing levels of anxiety and stress, claims the organisation.

In a survey of Anxiety UK community members, more than 83% reporting their levels of anxiety/stress have increased due to the changes.

Almost 60% of those who responded said they felt “much” more anxious while almost 25% reported feeling “a little more” or “quite a lot more” anxious or stressed as a result of their circumstances.

Commenting on their findings, Anxiety UK CEO Nicky Lidbetter said: “Clearly there are some very concerned and worried people with anxiety disorders and other mental health related illnesses that are finding these changes very stressful.

“In addition to the feedback we have had to our survey we know anecdotally via our helpline, email support service and our work with affordable housing and care provider Guinness Northern Counties that this is a common fear with many people currently.

“While we understand the need for the government to tackle the country’s finances and that employment is a protective factor against poor mental health, we would urge them to be mindful of their commitment that mental health should be treated with the same seriousness as physical health... It is vital that in both the development and implementation of government policy that the impact on mental health is taken into consideration.”

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