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From: Mandy Gould
Dear Secretary of State for Work and Pensions... You will be at the helm of the Department for Work and Pensions in circumstances few would have predicted a few weeks ago: a worsening labour market and the prospect of a recession. Adjusting your department to this new reality should be your top priority.
Up to a fifth of dairy cows in the UK are kept indoors in factory farms all year round, never feeling the grass beneath their feet or the sun on their backs. In Denmark 85 per cent of farms were grazing cows on grass in 2001, but by 2010 this had reduced to just 35 per cent . In the US the majority of dairy farms are industrial-scale indoor systems which can house tens of thousands of cows.
So there we have it. Some men are more equal than others - in exposure to tax liability, at least. The Panama Papers have revealed just how deviously and unethically many wealthy individuals protect their assets, reduce their exposure to tax, and pay as little into or back to their communities as they can get away with.
In the next few hours the debate over the future of Employment and Support Allowance will be decided. The impact on many disabled people could be significant. The government's defeat in the House of Lords on Monday offered disabled people at risk of losing as much as £30 a week in benefit support, a temporary reprieve.
In the past couple of months mental health has well and truly come to the forefront of the UK government; with all political parties talking about how they believe we can improve mental health services and with mental health effecting nearly every department of government, is it time for this government to create a minister for mental health in their cabinet?
Removing £30 a week is a short-sighted cost-cutting move that will only backfire, causing a huge deal of extra anxiety as well as financial problems, with the potential that people are pushed even further from work than previously. We need a supportive, personalised benefits system that works with people, not against them.
I would like to change the conversation, moving to a point when people ask for what they need to perform relevant activities that allows them to meet their outcomes. In the spirit of 'best value', they may need to explain why one more expensive solution is better able to meet their needs to deliver outcomes than a cheaper solution.
The problem is that we have been so overwhelmed by this assault from central government we are no longer shocked when another basic right gets flushed down the drain. It's not just satire that this government is intent on killing: they are annihilating any expectation we have that politicians are on our side and that government can, should, or could do anything to help us.
The past year has been a positive one for mental health, £600 million worth of investment for young people's mental health services but there are still major issues effecting the recovery of many sufferers. So here's my five step plan for 2016 and why I believe it will be the year of change for mental health.
The number of people with mental health problems being given benefit sanctions is rising rapidly, according to figures reported in The Independent this week. In the same week, a call on the Government to review the impact of sanctions on people with mental health problems was refused, despite growing anecdotal evidence of the risks they can pose.