Press release: Our relationship with The Rt Hon David Lidington MP

Our relationship with The Rt Hon David Lidington MP

Dave Pugh, Chair of Trustees of Buckinghamshire Mind said:

“The Board of Trustees met with David Lidington MP to discuss his position as Honorary Vice-President of Buckinghamshire Mind in light of him backing future cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the main out-of-work benefit for ill and disabled people.

On 24th May 2016, the Board voted to ask Mr Lidington to step down from his role of Honorary Vice-President with immediate effect. Actions of all our Patrons, Ambassadors, Honorary Vice-Presidents, staff and volunteers must be in the best interests of those Buckinghamshire Mind represent – people affected by mental health problems in Buckinghamshire and beyond. We felt that supporting this aspect of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill was in direct conflict with these interests.”

Andrea McCubbin, Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire Mind said:

“We were extremely disappointed when MPs, including our former Honorary Vice-President David Lidington, voted to cut the financial support available to people who cannot work because of illness or disability. Reducing the amount provided by nearly £30 a week will make people’s lives even more difficult and will do nothing to help them return to work, especially given that there is a relationship between financial difficulties and experience of mental health problems.

“Implying that ill and disabled people will be motivated into work if their benefits are cut is misguided as it fails to take into account the many reasons someone with a mental health problem might struggle to find or stay in employment. It’s also derogatory, because it’s based on the assumption that people with mental health problems are deliberately failing to find work because they prefer to stay on benefits, when actually the vast majority have a very high ‘want to work’ rate.

“We’ve already seen how many people with mental health problems are being negatively affected by the threat of having their benefits cut if they fail to do certain activities, which are often inappropriate and don’t take into account their barriers to work, skills or ambitions. We need a personalised, supportive benefits system delivered by people with expertise in mental health, a system that works with people, not against them.”