William Eichler 02 March 2020

Study finds 64,000 UC recipients suffer ‘psychological distress’

New research has found that tens of thousands of people have experienced ‘psychological distress’ due to the introduction of Universal Credit (UC).

A new Wellcome funded University of Liverpool research study, published in The Lancet Public Health, shows that the Government’s flagship welfare reform has impacted on the mental health of benefit recipients.

The researchers compared the change in psychological distress of unemployed people who were eligible for UC as it was introduced in the area in which each respondent lived, to the change in psychological distress in a comparison group of individuals who were not unemployed, and therefore would not have generally been eligible for UC.

The study found that the reform led to an additional seven people experiencing psychological distress for every 100 people affected by the policy. This means that approximately 64,000 people experienced mental health issues between 2013 and 2018 due to UC.

Dr Sophie Wickham, one of the researchers on the study, commented: ‘We have shown that moving on to Universal Credit increases psychological distress in unemployed people.

'Other groups may well be affected, such as employed people and those caring for children. The consequences of poor mental health, for individuals, families, and our public services, may be vast. It is therefore imperative that the UK government’s evaluation of Universal Credit extend to health impacts.’

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