Ministers are numb and have no idea what Pip payments are | Letters

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the government continues to attack the “mental health culture” (mentally ill people used as ‘political football’, say campaigners, April 29). The publication of its green paper on disability, in which the government says it wants to move away from financial support for people with mental health problems through Personal Independence Payments (Pip), is deeply worrying. It comes after the Prime Minister branded Britain as a country in the midst of a “culture of illness” and said society should not “over-medicalise life’s everyday challenges and concerns” by diagnosing them as mental health problems.

Such language is outdated and fails to promote open discussions about mental health or encourage those in need to seek expert advice. We cannot downplay the mental health challenges that people face every day. Everyone with a mental illness deserves support. This includes gaining financial security, and Pip is therefore an essential lifeline for those who rely on it.

We also know that the threat of benefit cuts causes more stress and anxiety for those most in need, and does nothing to get people back to work.

Instead, the government should see this as an opportunity to make a positive impact in supporting people with mental health problems. Properly funding mental health care and expanding the mental health workforce so that people can get the support they need without long delays would be a good place to start.
Dr Roman Raczka
Newly elected President of the British Psychological Society

So Rishi Sunak believes that personal independence payments ‘over-medicalise life’s daily challenges and worries’. Perhaps he should familiarize himself with the actual operation of the benefit. As a volunteer, I regularly support applicants during the process.

One claim for Pip involves completing a 36-page application form, which many people need help with. This is followed, after a long wait, by an assessment, usually carried out by telephone these days by the kind of ‘medical professional’ whose role Sunak apparently wants to expand. Around half of all claims are rejected at this stage, but the inadequacy of the process is reflected in the success rate of almost 75% of appeals to benefits tribunals – which are heard before a judge and a medical expert and an expert in the field disability care (an expensive procedure). The idea that benefits are given out for free to people who feel a little bit screwed up is risky.
Phil Drake

I’m fascinated to hear that Mel Stride is saying that people with “milder mental health issues” will no longer receive financial support. Anyone who has gone through the interview process for Pip with a mental illness knows what a torturous process it is. I took part in a Pip interview with a family member with mental health problems who had received letters of support from both their GP and consultant psychiatrist explaining why they were suitable for Pip. The interview was conducted by a paramedic and Pip was turned away. Significant savings could be achieved (both in procedural and appeal procedures) by not having the work of consultants supervised by often less qualified clinicians.
Name and address provided

Thank you for this brilliant article on the insensitive plans for changes to the disability support system (Yes Prime Minister, it is a scandal that so many of us are out of work. Maybe you Tories should stop making us sick, April 29). My daughter has cerebral palsy and I recently submitted an application for Pip on her behalf. The system is already so painful that I needed therapy after having to go into graphic detail about all the things she couldn’t do, and relive all her difficult and invasive appointments and the effect it has on her mental health. As long as there is breath in my body, I won’t let her do it herself, because no one should have to go through that. The idea that the process could be made more difficult is completely intolerable.
Name and address provided

Do you have an opinion about something you read in the Guardian today? Please e-mail us your letter and it will be considered for publication in our letters section.