Changes to the government’s welfare reform agenda and housing benefit are having a seriously detrimental effect on anxiety levels according to a new survey by Anxiety UK.
The introduction of personal independent payment (PIP) for 16-64 year olds on or after April 8 and the creation of the so-called 'bedroom tax' have contributed to growing levels of anxiety and stress in the UK.
Much more anxious
The survey of Anxiety UK community members revealed that more than 83% of people have reported their levels of anxiety/stress have increased since the start of the year.
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.
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.
“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 and how the government was going to make this a priority for the future.
“It is vital that in both the development and implementation of government policy that the impact on mental health is taking into consideration.”
Greater confidence and resilience
The charity has now begun working with affordable housing and care provider Guinness Northern Counties in order to provide advice and support for those struggling with recent housing changes.
Ian Simpson, Head of Access to Work at Guinness Northern Counties, added: “We know from our own experiences with a number of our customers that the current changes are causing them even greater levels of anxiety and stress than before.
“This is why we are working with Anxiety UK to offer additional support and help for our customers, especially those who are actively seeking new employment opportunities, providing them with greater confidence and resilience when approaching the job market.”