Benefits assessment led to woman’s suicide says watchdog

The way a woman was assessed for benefits led to her suicide less than a month later, according to a mental health watchdog.

The woman had a history of depression and was on significant medication, but scored zero points in a Work Capability Assessment (WCA), carried out by Atos.

A Mental Welfare Commission report said it could see no other factor “in her decision to end her life”.

The Department for Work and Pensions said correct procedures were followed.

The woman, who is identified only as Miss DE, was in her early 50s and had been out of work for just under two years due to stress-related depression when she was assessed for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). ESA replaced incapacity benefit as part of changes to the benefits system, introduced by the UK government in 2007.

Miss DE did not receive a self-assessment questionnaire and no evidence was requested from her psychiatrist or GP.

The doctor who conducted the hour-long assessment for Atos, on behalf of the DWP, concluded that Miss DE showed “no evidence that she has a significant disability of mental health function” and she was notified by letter that she had scored zero points in the assessment on 9 December 2011.

When a welfare rights officer informed Miss DE that this would mean her £94.25 per week incapacity benefit would be reduced to a Jobseekers Allowance of £67.50 per week she became very upset and said she did not know how she was going to pay her mortgage.

She took an overdose on New Year’s Eve.

“This lady had a lot to look forward to,” said the chief executive of the MWC, Dr Donald Lyons. “She was getting married. She was being treated. She was undertaking voluntary work. She had a good social network. There wasn’t anything else which we could identify that would lead us to believe that there was any other factor in her life that resulted in her decision to end her life.”

When a DWP representative analysed the process, he told the MWC that the steps taken showed “nothing untoward.”

The MWC said a survey of psychiatrists conducted as part of its investigation found that 13% reported that at least one of their patients had attempted suicide as a result of the assessment process.

A total of 75% said they had not been asked by the DWP or Atos to take part in benefit assessments, although the majority said their patients had asked them to provide medical evidence.  About 85% of the psychiatrists said that the benefits assessment had led to patients needing more frequent appointments.

read the rest of this article by Eleanor Bradford on the BBC Scotland website here:


Tory blocks food bank because ‘he can’t get a restaurant on a Saturday’

A Tory councillor has cited full restaurants as evidence that his borough doesn’t need another food bank

With Conservatives in Crawley ignoring the findings of the council’s Deprivation Scrutiny Panel — which suggested a food bank be set up at the town hall – Cllr Liam Marshall-Ascough said:

“People aren’t in poverty in terms of going without food. You try booking a restaurant in Crawley on a Friday or Saturday night. You can’t do it.”

It sounds like Cllr Marshall-Ascough would get on with government minister Lord ‘charities are to blame for food banks’ Freud.

From Politicalscrapbook, 26th March 2014:

Going By This, Capita Aren’t Much Better Than ATOS

Same Difference

Spotted on Facebook.

If you wonder why I’m sharing, please see the headline.

this is the email i sent to capita today

i wish to bring to your attention the way my wife has been treated by capita, her first contact was to receive a letter dated 19 December 2013 stating a home visit had been arranged for between 11& 16 november 2013, this would have been highly impossible unless you have a time machine.

on contacting you reference this a home visit was arranged for 16 January 2014 at 10.00 am, but at 09.40 am on the said date my wife received a phone call telling her that the appointment had been cancelled, with no reason given.

on contacting you again an appointment was made for 24 February 2014 at Greyfriars Court which my wife duly attended, where we were informed that her results would be forwarded to DWP/PIP…

View original post 122 more words

Universal credit now at 10 jobcentres – Just 730 to go!

Crack open the champagne! Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship welfare policy has now been extended to a Jobcentre in Shotton, Wales –

, bringing the total number running the scheme to, errr, ten — or 1.3% of the 740 offices in the UK.

The latest figures show that the benefit has cost more than £200,000 per claimant to implementThe original deadline for the programme was October 2015 … but documentation accompanying last week budget stated:

“based on current plans, Universal Credit will be fully available in each part of Great Britain during 2016″

But this spin was later ‘clarified’, with the DWP explaining the benefit would be available in all Jobcentres — but not to all claimants.

From , 24th March 2014

Atos, G4S paid no corporation tax last year despite carrying out £2billion of taxpayer-funded work

Two of the country’s biggest private contractors paid no corporation tax in Britain last year, despite carrying out billions of pounds of taxpayer funded work for the Government, an official audit finds

Two of the country’s biggest private contractors paid no corporation tax in Britain last year, despite carrying out billions of pounds of taxpayer funded work for the Government, an official audit has found.

A report by the National Audit Office, published today, disclosed for the first time how much Government work is now outsourced to the private sector.

It found that the four biggest suppliers – Atos, Capita, G4S and Serco – carried out £6.6billion-worth of work for the public sector and central Government last year.

Yet two of them – Atos and G4S which carried out £2billion-worth for work for the Government and public sector – paid no corporation tax at all in the UK in 2012. Capita paid between £50million and £56million, while Serco paid £25million in tax.

Atos and G4S were criticised by Margaret Hodge MP, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

She said: “Everyone has a duty to pay their fair share in tax, but there is something particularly galling about the idea of company who gets its income from the public purse not putting its rightful contribution back in.

“Of course, we don’t actually know how much profit Atos and G4S made in the UK last year because this remains an area where there is a total lack of transparency.

“We need to lift that veil of secrecy – and again, that duty of transparency should apply particularly to those who derive their income from taxpayers’ money.”

G4S sources said that the company did not pay any corporation tax last year because it had carried one-off losses over from the previous year. Overall it said it paid around £400million in PAYE-related taxes.

An spokesman for Atos, which is carrying out fit for work tests on sick and disabled benefits claimants, said: “We don’t undertake any aggressive tax planning and everything booked in the UK is also billed here which is why HM Revenue and Customs has classified us as low risk.

“However, due to significant investment in the UK to maintain our business here as well as pension contributions, we did not make enough profit last year to qualify for Corporation Tax.

From the Telegraph, 12th November 2013:

My husband was attacked and his life endangered and then Atos came along and tried to strip him of his dignity

This was posted on the Citizens Advice page on 20th March.


My husband started with depression years ago, probably while he was working. Possibly due to a bereavement, he was then made redundant twice in a 18 month period. Each time he was made redundant it was done callously. The first they were locked out and the second he got ill and was sacked.

He had been claiming Incapacity Benefit and had been assessed before and we had to go to appeal which we won, that was hard but nothing compared to what happened with his last assessment.

A while ago my husband while out walking was attacked and robbed. The attackers, there were 3 or 4 of them, kicked him unconscious and still attacked him while unconscious on the ground, they took all his belongings. They were savage to my husband. Eventually my husband woke up. He somehow made his way home. I contacted the emergency services. My husband came home covered in blood.

Anyway a couple of months later my husband HAD to go to Atos for a WCA. He had to relive this experience in the sense he told the assessor because he had to so they knew his mental state. He could not go outside and was diagnosed with PTSD and his depression was made extreme, he had letters of support from agencies including Victim Support and his GP. His attackers have never been caught. My husband had a patchy memory of the attack which scared him, he sat in this assessment being asked loaded questions and was told he HAD to answer them. I was there the whole time and when I tried to help him or intervene I was told I couldn’t.

My husband was found fit to work with zero points. His assessment report which was sent with the decision said nothing about the trauma he had suffered and did not include medication. When he read the report he just sat and cried.

The result was this decision made our lives hell. I became fearful of my husband’s state of mind. I thought he would kill himself. I did everything I could to support him and I lodged a appeal. I did not persevere with the appeal because of a change of circumstances in my health needs I get DLA. Also I was worried what impact a tribunal would have on him.

Next year it will be my turn for an assessment for PIP.

I see this government as some out of touch sadists, they are on a ideological mission. Cameron has already said he is on a moral mission. Mission into what? A country that punishes the poor and the ill and disabled. They are utterly reprehensible and completely foul, these assessments are done with no ethics, no humanity. Cameron’s moral mission is to rid the country of compassion and decency. These assessments are no way to treat a human being.

My husband was attacked and his life endangered and then Atos came along and tried to strip him of his dignity.

I would like to get a message across to benefit Decision Makers.

From the Facebook page ‘Atos Miracles’

I would like to get a message across to benefit Decision Makers.

Imagine having to wake up every day in severe pain and confusion only to find there is no electricity, gas or food and you have prepayment meters and no one else at home to help you.

No money through wrong decisions or sanctions.

You may say there is other help for these people,WRONG,income support is only if you have children,in some areas the Council after checking may provide up to 2 £70 payments per year but how the hell can you sort these out in these situations no electric,money,you cannot leave your home and by the way the mobile phone got cut off ages ago.

I and perhaps many others have been through this and during Winter,so please Decision Makers think carefully before denying benefits.