Universal Credit receipt among working-age patients who are accessing specialist mental health services: results from a novel data linkage study

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Abstract

Background In 2013, Universal Credit (UC) was introduced by the UK Government. Understanding of how UC provision is allocated among people with mental disorders, and its intersection with protected characteristics is limited. This study aimed to explore (1) how UC receipt, including UC conditionality regime, varied among users of specialist mental health services between 2013 and 2019 and (2) associations between sociodemographic and diagnostic patient characteristics and UC receipt.

Methods Working-age individuals who had accessed specialist mental health services were included if they had their mental health record data successfully linked with administrative benefits data. Associations between sociodemographic, diagnostic patient characteristics and UC receipt were explored using logistic regression models.

Results Of the 143 715 patients, 26.9% had received UC between 2013 and 2019. Four in five patients were allocated to the searching for work conditionality regime during their time on UC. Females were less likely to have received UC (adjusted OR (AOR) 0.87, 95% CI 0.85 to 0.89) than males, and UC receipt decreased with age. Black patients (AOR 1.39, 95% CI 1.34 to 1.44) and patients from mixed and multiple ethnic backgrounds (AOR 1.27, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.38) had a higher likelihood of UC receipt than White patients. UC receipt was lower among patients diagnosed with severe mental illness compared with other psychiatric diagnoses (AOR 0.74, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.77).

Conclusion One in four specialist mental health service users had received UC and a large majority were subject to conditionality. The temporality of UC conditionality and mental health service presentation needs further exploration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2024

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