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Mental Health

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received on proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill to assist claimants with mental or behavioural disorders. (93167)

We have consulted widely during the development of our welfare reform proposals. From January to April 2006 we carried out a formal public consultation, receiving over 600 responses addressing the full range of welfare reform issues. Many of the responses dealt with helping people with mental health conditions or behavioural disorders into work.

We continue to liaise closely with a wide range of stakeholders, lobby groups and service users, meeting as many as possible. For example, I have recently been on visits to projects run by MIND, MENCAP and Rethink, and have hosted a meeting of service users with mental health conditions. This liaison has helped us to understand and appreciate the issues faced by our customers and the practical implications of policy changes.

Meanwhile, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of the Personal Capability Assessment process. As part of this work we have reviewed the mental health assessment so that it more accurately reflects the challenges faced by those suffering from mental health conditions, learning disabilities and behavioural disorders. To ensure that we get our reforms right the review has been carried out by medical and stakeholder experts in mental health, learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders. The review group’s report was published on 10 October and I have accepted their recommendations.