Sickness benefit medical test caused massive increase in mental illness, research shows

“The programme of reassessing people on disability benefits using the Work Capability Assessment was independently associated with an increase in suicides, self-reported mental health problems and antidepressant prescribing. This policy may have had serious adverse consequences for mental health in England, which could outweigh any benefits that arise from moving people off disability benefits.”

Read more here:

and the original research document here:

Edinburgh Jobcentre shut down as claimants insist “Advocacy is not a crime”

(Just to make it clear the DWP, in both their published  guidance to job centre advisors and in their answers to freedom of information requests, says that people have the right to be accompanied by someone to the jobcentre, whether a friend, family member, or representative. – Argotina)

The entire ground floor of Edinburgh’s High Riggs Jobcentre was closed down for almost three hours on 10th September as Jobcentre managers called in police and refused to permit a jobseeker to exercise his right to be accompanied to an appointment. Members of Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty defied threats of arrest and stayed in the jobcentre to support the claimant and the ECAP advocate.

Now ECAP are calling a solidarity demo for this Monday 14th at 9am at High Riggs Jobcentre, when the jobseeker, Adam, will attend his rearranged appointment, once more accompanied by an ECAP advocate.  ECAP say: “We will not be intimidated by the DWP bullies, G4S security or the police.  We will assert claimants’ right to be accompanied.  The DWP themselves state: “Claimants accessing Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits and services can have someone to accompany them to act on their behalf..””


Jobseeker Adam had been called to the Jobcentre for an appointment to review his Jobseekers Agreement.  Having suffered months of harrassment from the Jobcentre, who have been trying to force him onto workfare schemes, Adam asked ECAP rep Mike to come with him.  Having that very morning received the distressing news that his brother was having to undergo a serious emergency operation, Adam asked Gerry, the Jobcentre adviser, if his review could be postponed and if he could just quickly sign on and go to the hospital to be with his brother.

The adviser completely ignored this request and instead aggressively demanded that ECAP rep Mike produce photographic ID to prove who he was.  This despite the fact that Mike has not only attended dozens of interviews in High Riggs, including with senior managers, but had even accompanied Adam to an appointment with the same adviser, Gerry, very recently.   When Mike replied that there was nothing requiring the provision of ID in the DWP documents which confirm the right to representation, Gerry stormed off.  G4S security demanded the ECAP rep leave – he refused.  Management called the police.


At this point ECAP members, who had been leafleting outside, entered the jobcentre to give solidarity to Adam and Mike, and demanded to speak with the manager.  Soon police descended on the Jobcentre and the management closed off the entire ground floor.  For some time the whole Jobcentre was shut, with steel door roller shutters barring claimants from entry.   Despite frequent requests for a meeting, manager Linda Gibb refused any dialogue.  Meanwhile members of ECAP’s solidarity network, alerted by an emergency call-out, gathered at the Jobcentre in growing numbers.

This incident follows the arrest of advocate Tony Cox at Arbroath Jobcentre where he was accompanying a vulnerable jobseeker.  Supporters are due to besiege Forfar Sheriff Court when Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony faces trial on 13th October.

read more here:

The DWP is now largely being held to account not by opposition politicians, not by well-funded charities such as Disability Rights UK, but by activists with virtually no income.

This is from the ‘Benefits and Work’ newsletter.

What is particularly notable about these news items is that they were all brought about by tiny, private sector or unfunded groups or individuals.

The ESA death statistics campaign is the work of Vox Political blogger Mike Sivier.

The bogus sanction claimants were revealed by Welfare Weekly – a one-person online news aggregator.

And the UN investigation has come about due to the tireless work of activist group Disabled People Against Cuts.

Add to this the story of the 49 secret DWP investigations into claimant deaths, revealed earlier this year by John Pring’s Disability News Service, and a startling truth emerges.

The DWP is now largely being held to account not by opposition politicians, not by well-funded charities such as Disability Rights UK, but by activists with virtually no income.

One of the main weapons of these new campaigners is the Freedom of Information Act. But we know that the government is already taking steps to try to dramatically curtail the use of the Act.

How long before the government – or its multinational partners – also decide to take action against the campaigners themselves?

Support for ever more harsh benefits cuts depends on people accepting that claimants are bad and the DWP is good. These campaigners are inconveniently proving that the opposite is true.

Tory welfare cuts to force single mums back to work when youngest child turns three

THE new rules, to be introduced in 2017, have been slammed by the SNP as targeting vulnerable women

Campaign groups have warned that Scotland does not have sufficient childcare arrangements to cope with single parents workign full-time when their children are at such a young age.

SINGLE mums will be forced to look for work when their youngest child turns three under the latest Tory welfare cuts to be debated today.

The SNP last night branded the controversial proposals further proof that the UK Government is deliberately targeting vulnerable women in their attack on benefits.

And campaigners warned Scotland does not have sufficient childcare arrangements in place to allow all single parents to work full-time when their children are such a young age.

One parent families are currently entitled to benefits with no strings attached until their children start school aged five.

But proposals contained in Chancellor George Osborne’s poor-punishing budget would lower this age limit to three and require parents to begin to look for work if they want to keep getting the money.

read the rest  of this story here:

Man who had sickness benefits axed wins appeal – months after he died

Graham Shawcross, 63, had Addison’s disease which left him exhausted – Yvonne said the stress of being told he was fit to work led to his heart attack

A widow was horrified when a letter arrived for her late husband saying he had won his appeal against his sickness benefits being axed.

Graham Shawcross, 63, had potentially fatal Addison’s disease, but was ruled fit to work last November and had his £400-a-month incapacity benefit halted.

He died of a heart attack in February this year.

Yvonne, his wife of 23 years, claims the stress of losing his benefits, and of launching an appeal against the decision, caused his death. She told Department of Work and Pensions bosses Graham had died, but they still invited him to attend an appeal hearing – and wrote again a few days later to say he was eligible for Employment and Support Allowance for at least the next 24 months.

Yvonne of Radcliffe, Manchester, said: “Graham would surely be alive today if it was not for the stress. The month before he died, you could tell he was going downhill. He was completely not himself, his stress levels were going through the roof and he was upping his steroids to higher levels every day. Graham was talking about his appeal constantly and writing the details out dozens of times a day.

“He was a proud man and what upset him most was that he thought they were calling him a liar.   It was just heartbreaking.”

In November, Graham received a letter from the DWP informing him he was no longer entitled to incapacity benefit after an assessment found he was fit for work. But Graham, who did not receive a single point when his capability to work was assessed, suffered from Addison’s disease – a rare adrenal gland disorder which affects hormone production.

The condition, treated with steroid medication, causes exhaustion, muscle weakness, dizziness, fainting and cramps and can lead to adrenal crisis, which can be fatal. Mr Shawcross had suffered from Addison’s disease since the age of 21 but had worked for forty years before ill-health got the better of him.

After appealing the decision at the end of January, he was summoned to a hearing in Bury in June 19 – despite Yvonne informing the DWP of his death. On June 24, a second letter arrived stating his appeal had been granted and he was eligible for Employment and Support Allowance for at least the next 24 months.

Mr Shawcross, father to 30-year-old Gary and Rebecca, aged 21, volunteered as the treasurer of the Bolton Road estate tenants and residents association. His wife, who runs a school kitchen, said when he attended his medical assessment with Atos Healthcare he brought with him a large folder about his condition, which was not consulted.

She added: “If Graham could have worked he would have loved to work – he did anything for anybody. As it turns out, he did not even need to go through all the stress, because he won his appeal. But it was all for nothing.”

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis said: “Graham Shawcross was a remarkable man, who for nearly 40 years, worked hard despite having a chronic illness. “His treatment at the hands of this callous Tory-led government was scandalous.

“It exposes the fact that many of the changes they are making hit vulnerable people who deserve better in a civilised society.”

Mum ordered to pay back dead son’s benefits

A GRIEVING mother was ordered to pay back £41.36 for her dead son’s overpaid benefits to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), it was revealed yesterday.

Rachel Degaetano received the letter last week after 21-year-old Chae Bennett committed suicide on April 15 this year in woodland near his family home in Barry, Wales.

DWP stated that employment and support allowance (ESA) paid for five days after his death should be given back.

The letter reads: “We are sorry to hear that Mr Bennett has died and apologise for having to get in touch with you at this time. We hope you will appreciate that when public funds are incorrectly paid we are obliged to ask for them to be refunded.”

DWP said it could not comment on individual cases when contacted by the Star.

Ms Degaetano, a mother-of-five and mental health support worker, posted online in response: “Does Iain Duncan Smith need breakfast money?”

The Work and Pensions Secretary had claimed that he could live on £53-a-week jobseeker’s allowance — before blowing £39 of taxpayers’ money on one morning meal.

She added: “Fewer than 55 days after my son takes his own life, because he was let down by a system already underfunded, which this government intends to make further cuts to, they have the audacity to send me this?”

Read the rest of this story here:

Many people whose benefits have been stopped have serious health conditions, so of course more are dying, admits DWP

Yet again Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has blocked the publication of statistics showing how many people have died within six weeks of having their benefits stopped.

These figures were routinely published until 2012, when this government’s Welfare Reform Act  started to bite. Since then the DWP has steadfastly refused to publish new statistics, saying:  a.They were too expensive to gather and: b.That so many people requested the figures that the requests themselves were ‘vexatious’ and could therefore be ignored. Direct requests to the DWP from several MPs have had no more luck.

Now the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), an independent authority set up to uphold public information rights, has agreed that there is no reason not to publish the figures. And yet again the DWP is trying to wriggle out.

What struck me most in this article from the Huffington Post was this warning from the DWP:

“The DWP  warned it was irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim, and that mortality rates among people with serious health conditions are likely to be higher than those among the general population.”

Well, The system of disability assessments was supposed to sort out who needs disability benefits. The DWP’s warning demonstrates that they don’t see people with serious health conditions who are more likely to die as being in need of benefits. And if they are being kicked off their benefits and then dying, that’s just fine as long as the Tories can dodge publishing the figures..

The DWP takes its orders from the Conservative government. And David Cameron and his ministers appear to be completely at ease with the idea of stripping seriously ill people of their benefits and them subsequently dying. If those people die, well, they were more likely to die anyway.

I read over and over again in comments here and elsewhere on the net of people who have been thrown off disability benefits as ‘fit to work’, but cannot then get unemployment benefits because the Job Centre deems them ‘Unfit to work’. I’m personally trying to help 2 people in this exact situation right now. As a result of losing their sickness benefits and having no income, both have been hit by a spiral of depression which made it impossible to appeal against the decision in the one month time slot allowed by the DWP.

More than 18,000 people have signed a petition in under a week after the DWP appealed a decision to release the sensitive figures

I can’t leave this topic without mentioning the tireless campaigning to get these figures published.over several years by John Pring of the Disability News Service . If the government is pushed into a corner it can’t wriggle out of and forced to release these figures, it will largely be thanks to John.