U.K. government statistics reveal that thousands of people died within weeks of being found “fit to work” and having their welfare benefits cancelled.
The release of the statistics follows a protracted campaign from journalists and activists, including a Change.org petition that garnered almost 250,000 signatures. Many have already accused the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of stalling its response until after this year’s election in May.
The most shocking mortality data comes from a document about disability-related benefits. Between December 2011 and February 2014, 81,140 people died within six weeks of “flowing off” benefits such as ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), which the government pays to people who cannot work due to illness or disability.
Over the past five years, the DWP has made a public effort to reduce the number of people claiming government benefits. This included the introduction of “fit to work” assessments, which are used to determine whether people are qualified to receive disability benefits.
The newly published documents show that 2,380 former ESA claimants died within two weeks of being declared “fit to work.”
To qualify for a vehicle under the new Personal Independent Payments (Pip) system, a person must not be able to walk for 20 metres. This is less than half the 50-metre limit the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) enforced previously.
“This is having a devastating effect on quality of life and levels of independence,” the report said.
Almost 40 per cent of the 300 people with muscle-wasting conditions the charity surveyed in 2015 had delays while applying for benefits, resulting in more than 30 per cent experiencing financial hardship.
One in five had to wait more than six months for an appointment to assess their eligibility for benefits.
A third of respondents felt they were not treated with dignity by their assessors.
“Having a progressive illness is difficult enough without being treated as though you are exaggerating. I struggled not to sink into deep depression,” Joyce Matthews, who has myotonic dystrophy, told researchers.
It’s like they have no idea what disability actually entails. Just because someone can walk 20 metres on one day doesn’t mean that they can walk 20 metres the next day. And even if someone can walk 20 metres a day, that’s not exactly a huge amount. That doesn’t mean that someone can make it to the nearest bus stop, or even out their front door.
I’m so sick of Governments that try to cut costs from the most vulnerable people in their society. On a Government budget, cutting a few billion (in this case 4.4 billion) is a fraction. It’s nothing, it’ll make virtually no difference to the deficit. But to the people it affects, it’s everything. People are literally killing themselves over this. People can’t afford to eat. People can’t afford to live.
More than 80 people a month are dying shortly after being declared
“fit for work” according to new data, prompting campaigners to call for
an overhaul of the government’s controversial welfare regime.
released by the Department for Work and Pensions on Thursday show that
2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after a
work capability assessment (WCA) found they were able to work.
The phone line to claim Iain Duncan Smith’s new benefits system will cost callers trying to get assistance as much as 45p a minute, it has been confirmed. The Department for Work and Pensions said it would not set up an 0800 freephone landline for Universal Credit and said people should claim online. The benefits helpline will be an 0345 number – meaning calls from mobiles will cost up to 45p and landlines 12p a minute.