Saturday, November 15, 2014

DWP admits investigating 60 benefit-related deaths since 2012

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out 60 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths in less than three years, Disability News Service (DNS) can reveal.

DWP released the figures in response to a series of Freedom of Information Act (FoI) requests by DNS.
It said in one response that DWP had carried out “60 peer reviews following the death of a customer” since February 2012.

There have been numerous reports of disabled people whose deaths have been linked to the employment and support allowance (ESA) claim process, or the refusal or removal of ESA and other benefits, including the writer Paul Reekie, who killed himself in 2010, and the deaths of Nick BarkerJacqueline Harris, Ms DE, and Brian McArdle.

The Scottish-based, user-led campaign group Black Triangle has collected more than 40 examples of people – most of them disabled – who appear to have died as a result of being found “fit for work” through a work capability assessment (WCA), or having their entitlement to benefits otherwise refused or removed.

Many of the cases became widely-known through media reports of inquests, but in the case of Ms DE, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland concluded that the WCA process and the subsequent denial of ESA was at least a “major factor in her decision to take her own life”.

But DWP has consistently denied any connection between the coalition’s welfare reforms and cuts and the deaths of benefit claimants.