Mental health sufferers forced to cut back on food and heating to survive Covid cash crisis

People with mental health problems are three times more likely to run out of funds during the coronavirus outbreak, with many being forced to cut back on essential spending on food and heating.

A report by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, a charity, has warned that people with mental health issues are typically hit much harder by a loss of income and more likely to fall into financial difficulty.

Its research found that 38pc of people suffering with their mental health had seen their income drop since the pandemic began. Many have had to cut back on spending on essential items such as food and heating because they fear falling into debt because of the outbreak, it said.

People with mental health problems entered the crisis with an annual household income that was £5,700 lower than the average person. 

This has been exacerbated by the crisis and this group is now three times more likely to run out of money within a week, should they lose their primary source of income.

The equivalent of one in every eight mental health sufferers would be left unable to make ends meet.

The Government had launched a range of support packages to help citizens who have lost income or been made redundant during the crisis.

However, the Institute has called for universal credit claimants to be offered grants when they enter financial hardship, rather than loans which add to the indebtedness of households. 

Katie Alpin, of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “The coronavirus crisis has exposed the serious financial disadvantages that some sectors of society face, and that’s particularly true for those affected by mental health problems. 

“Many people in this group were in a more precarious financial situation before the current crisis began, and will be hit harder by the economic shocks resulting from it.”

Mrs Alipn also expressed concerns that employers could discriminate against workers with mental health problems when the furlough scheme is wound up.

More broadly, there has been a shift in consumer attitudes to cash during the Covid-19 pandemic. A separate study by Streetbees, a market research firm, found that 74pc of the general public are currently reluctant to handle cash unless necessary.

Vulnerable people are more reliant on cash than the wider population, however those trying to spend using notes and coins have found it increasingly difficult to do so. 

More than half of consumers who have tried to spend cash during lockdown have been told by retailers that they require customers to pay using a card. Supermarkets and newsagents were the two types of shop that were most likely to switch to card only payments.

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