Conor D’Arcy, Head of Research and Policy, Money and Mental Health

The end of furlough means accessible support is more vital than ever

30 September 2021

The furlough scheme is about to end. It’s done huge amounts to support jobs, incomes and, as a result, mental health through the pandemic. And the fact that it is winding up is – in a wider sense – good news, with daily life much more recognisable now than when it launched. But for theestimated 1 million peoplewho face uncertainty and the risk of losing their livelihoods, what happens next will be just as important.

Focusing on how to make the help that’s available to them as accessible as possible is the vital next step in the Covid recovery.

What employers can do

The decision to let staff go is likely to be a difficult one for firms. But there are practical things that employers can do to equip people made redundant with the right information.Signposting is vital, whether that’s to information on benefits, other ways of maximising income or money and debt advice.Making it easier for people to find and use that assistance is crucial – as we know that when your mental health is poor, reaching out for help can be hard. Having that information given to you, rather than needing to seek it out, can be a big help.

What support and advice services can do

指出这些至关重要的服务是有用的,但提供支持的组织需要确保它为每个需要它的人提供。Our researchhas found that debt advice, which can be so important when you’ve got money worries, can work less well for people with mental health problems. Unclear or jargon-heavy conversations, and staff who don’t understand how common symptoms of mental health problems affect us, can make it practically harder to engage with advice.Ensuring information provided is easy to follow, and delivered with an awareness that some people will require more support than others, will be key in the months ahead.

What government can do

The issue of accessibility extends to government too. ThePlan for Jobsannounced by the government included a package of offers, including training and opportunities like traineeships and apprenticeships. But unfortunately ourResearch Community这个由数千名有过心理健康问题经历的人组成的团体告诉我们,工作与养老金部(DWP)的就业支持经常对他们不起作用。对心理健康问题了解有限的员工是一个关键问题,通过改进培训可以解决这个问题,但系统的设计和重点也很关键。强迫人们去找任何工作——没有考虑到它的适当性以及心理健康问题意味着我们能做或不能做——意味着这种支持的潜力被压制了。Improving staff knowledge and understanding of mental health problems and how they can impact our ability to do certain tasks should be a top priority for the DWP.

As well as the end of furlough, another imminent hit to finances for millions of families will be the £20 cut to Universal Credit. Against this backdrop, the government hastoday announceda £500 million fund for local authorities to help those most in need. The size of this fund is dwarfed by the roughly£6 billion reductionin incomes to families affected. But with no U-turn forthcoming, it’s crucial that the Household Support Fund gets to all those who are in need. The announcement says that those who need support should contact their council, but as with other help and advice, this can be a huge challenge for people who are struggling with their mental health.Proactive outreach from local authorities, in partnership with trusted organisations that come into contact with those who are struggling – like charities, advice services and health professionals – should help more people get the help they need.Local authorities also have data of their own, for example on missed council tax payments, which could help them to spot who might be struggling and proactively reach out.

If you’re having money worries or struggling with your mental health, help is out there. You can find more information onour website.