Eleanor is a trainer and advocate for disabled women’s rights. After having lived abroad in France and the US for several years, she came back to the UK for a job. She co-founded Sisters of Frida to help disabled women who face daily barriers

View Eleanor's story

What is the Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?


Nadia works at the London School of Economics at the Gender Institute. Nadia recently finished their* Masters there in Gender, Policy and Inequality. Nadia has worked on numerous projects with Mind, Women in Prison and Fearless Futures who educate young girls on gender equality. Nadia had quite a turbulent childhood and witnessed domestic abuse and experienced psychological abuse from childhood to adolescence.

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What is the government’s policy towards mental health support for young adults?


Sophie is an art practitioner and writer. In the last 15 years she has received the Independent Living Fund (ILF) with which she can afford different and fairly paid carers who help her with imperative daily tasks that she is not able to do herself. Without the ILF, she wouldn’t be able to work, cultivate interests, and take any part in public life.

View Sophie’s story                

What is the Independent Living Fund (ILF)?


What is the government's policy towards mental health support for young adults?

What is the Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?

What is the Independent Living Fund (ILF)?

What is the government’s policy towards mental health support for young adults?

Over the past few decades, rates of mental health issues amongst children and young adults have risen. As such, many young people are struggling to find help and support for mental health. In England, people with mental health problems fail to receive the same access and quality of care that people with other illnesses would receive. Rarely has mental health been seen as equal to physical health in the UK.

While the government works towards putting mental health on the agenda, funding towards mental health services seems to be decreasing. The Health and Social Care Act of 2012 created a new strategy for the NHS and other mental health services to increase their standard of delivery and provide early support for mental health problems. However, mental health services have always been underfunded and cuts to the sector keep increasing, especially funding for children and young adults. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is one of the main services that offers mental health assessment and treatments for children and young people. However recent cuts to the CAMHS have made it difficult for children and young adults to seek the help they require. In addition, mental health services only consumes roughly 11% of the NHS budget, while mental health illnesses account for 23% of the burden of disease in the UK. Without adequate and sustainable funding, less people are able to get the support they need.

What is the government’s policy towards sex and relationship education for young adults?

Sex and relationship education (SRE) is vital for child and young adults to increase their knowledge on sex and healthy relationships. It is imperative for schools to address these topics to ensure that children and young adults learn about the emotional, social, and physical aspects of growing up, relationships, sex, human sexuality, and sexual health. Sex and relationship and mental health education all come under the study of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education. However, the government have not yet made standardised and comprehensive sex and relationships education compulsory in all UK schools. While the government has allowed schools to maintain flexibility over teaching above the national curriculum, education on mental health is still minimal in schools.

What is the government’s policy towards sexual violence?

Figures from 2012 to 2013 show that in the UK an estimated 1.2 million women suffered domestic abuse, and over 330,000 women were sexually assaulted. Support for victims to rebuild their lives is vital. This often includes counselling and mental health services. While the government focuses on preventing sexual violence, they should also increase efforts to support victims.

What is the issue with mental health policy?

Poor mental health is a serious problem and its severity is often undermined. Untreated mental health can turn into a lifelong illness therefore treating mental health problems and mental health education is vital from a young age. 10% of children and young people aged 5-16 have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. In addition, 75% of mental illnesses in adult life begin before the age of 18. Cuts in mental health services are affecting children and young adults. It is vital for the government to improve efforts and funding for tackling mental health illnesses and provide support for those most vulnerable. The earlier that young people receive help to address their mental health issues, the less likely they are to suffer serious consequences in the future.

What is the issue with the lack of mental health education?

Many children and young adults fear the stigma associated with having a mental health problem. The stigma is associated directly with a low level of knowledge of mental health. Increased education on mental health within schools increases the awareness of mental illnesses. Therefore with increased education on mental illnesses, children are more likely to understand the problems with mental illnesses better, they will become less afraid of the stigma, and individuals will also be less afraid to seek help.

What is the issue with cuts to women’s services?

Women’s services and organisations provide great efforts in supporting victims of violence. Many women rely on these services to rebuild their lives. With cuts to women’s services, less people are able to seek the help they need as a lack of funding means that women’s organizations are left with a limited capacity to help victims. Women’s services not only support these women, they also do work on campaigning for victims of sexual violence, create awareness and tackle the stigma surrounding survivors of sexual violence and rape. Their work is vital.

The government should stop cutting the funding to this sector so that women’s services do not have to turn women that need help away. The government should also collaborate with these specialist services to create a national strategy to end violence against women. It must be noted that smaller specialist women’s organisations, like those for BME women with specific language or disability needs for example, are suffering disproportionately under funding cuts.


What is the Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit in place to help with the extra costs caused by disability for those aged between 16 and 64. Recipients get between £21.80 and £139.75 a week depending on how their condition affects them. This is determined through regular assessment. The PIP was introduced in the 2012 Welfare Reform Act to replace the Disability Living Allowance which is being phased out. Potential recipients fill in a form describing how their disability affects them and attach evidence to support their claim. The Department of Work and Pensions then passes information to a health professional who decides whether the person in question needs a face-to-face assessment, in most cases they do. The healthcare professional will then review the evidence and report back to the Department of Work and Pensions. A decision is then made as to whether the person is entitled to PIP and if so at what rate. If the person disagrees with the decision then they are able to appeal it.

What are the issues with the Personal Independent Payment?

The criteria established in the PIP assessment process have been described as deeply flawed by many disability campaigners and by the media. The assessment element of PIP has been taken out of the public sector and is now outsourced from private firms such as French company ATOS. Many disability campaigners have criticised this type of outsourcing claiming that private companies are not doing the assessments properly in order to meet targets and cut costs. As a result of this, many disabled people are being classified as more abled than they are in reality and are losing their PIP or having it drastically reduced. A great deal of attention was brought to the scheme due to many highly controversial cases coming out.

Additionally, many disabled people are concerned about the Universal Credit System that was launched in 2013. The system aims to reform and simplify the existing system by merging the six main types of means tested benefits. Disability campaigners believe that this system oversimplifies and fails to take the needs of disabled people into account. As a result they believe that disabled people are being left in precarious positions without the assistance and support they truly need.

Did you know?

Disabled women and women with long term health condition make up 1/3 of all women in UK refuges.


The ILF was established in 1988 to provide financial support for people living with disabilities across the UK. The fund paid an average of £300 a week to around 18,000 disabled people. Recipients of the ILF were considered to be some of the most severely disabled people in the country. The ILF was predominantly used to cover the costs of carers and personal assistants to allow those with severe disabilities to remain in their homes rather than moving to residential care homes. This money came from the central government and was given to recipients in addition to benefits given by local authorities to ensure they can keep up with the costs of care. However, in July 2015 the government ended the programme, and now funding is distributed solely by local authorities.

What are the issues with terminating the Independent Living Fund?

Former recipients of the ILF have protested its termination, worrying about the drastic effects this can have on their financial situations and overall quality of life. The national government has significantly reduced the amount of money being given to local authorities each year from £300 million to £262 million, which has reduced the amount of money available to support people with disabilities The money going to disabled people is not ring-fenced, so it is vulnerable to spending cuts that would have a negative impact on the lives of disabled people. It is probable that local authorities will have to begin making decisions based on cost rather than based on meeting the actual needs of disabled people.

Did you know?

Disabled women and women with long term health conditions make up 1/3 of all women in UK refuges.


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