The increasing death toll due to the loss of benefits

The increasing death toll due to the loss of benefits

This is an updated list of the people who we know to have died as a result of their benefits being taken away. This is only the people whose families have come forward or who have had benefit losses noted by a coroner as responsible for their death.

If you are feeling suicidal yourself, I advise you not to read this list. Contact the Samaritans on their free phone number 116 123

Source: The increasing death toll due to the loss of benefits

DWP issued guidance that made suicides more likely, then ‘lied’ to cover its tracks

The government has secretly made major changes to guidance given to “fitness for work” benefits assessors that has put the lives of thousands of disabled claimants at risk… and then “lied” about what it had done.

The changes appear to show ministers made a calculation last year that it was worth risking the loss of some lives in order to cut benefits spending and force more disabled people into their discredited back-to-work programmes.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) could now face legal action over its decision to bring in the changes without seeking approval from parliament.

read more here:

New DWP guidelines mean assessors are forcing suicidal people back to work

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidelines are encouraging assessors to consider the “benefit” that employment can have for claimants at risk of suicide who would otherwise be marked unfit for work.

Earlier this month, the government released figures that show the amount of successful applications to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has been falling from the start of the year.

According to a DWP spokesperson, this is nothing out of the ordinary:

We expected the proportion of claimants placed in the Support Group to fall as the backlog of new claims reduced, due to fewer claims leaving the benefit before reaching their Work Capability Assessment.ut this drop must be considered in light of the changes in guidance that came into effect at the start of 2016.

Risks and benefits

Previously, guidance for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) advised that someone who is a suicide risk should be placed in the Support Group. This is the higher level of benefit, for those who are severely disabled and cannot work.

Now, the guidance says something different entirely:

If you conclude that finding a claimant fit for work would trigger risk of suicide or self-harm then you need to consider whether there are factors that would mitigate the risk if the claimant were found fit for work.

According to the WCA Handbook, these factors include whether the risk to physical or mental health is “substantial”, whether the benefits of employment outweigh the potential risks, and whether “reasonable workplace adjustments or prescribed medication” could reduce the risk.

Specifically, it says:

Remember that there is good evidence that people in work have better health outcomes and are at lower risk of suicide.

Read more here:

‘Fit for work’ suicide man’s sister tried to take her own life after DWP ordeal

The sister of a man driven to suicide by the “fitness for work” system tried to take her own life after being “treated like a criminal” by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over her benefit claims.

Eleanor Donnachie believes her brother Paul (pictured) was a victim of DWP’s failure to ensure the safety of people with mental health conditions in vulnerable situations who apply for employment and support allowance (ESA) through the work capability assessment (WCA) system.

read more here:

Benefit claimants die as DWP staff keep failing to follow suicide guidelines

September 8th 2016 John Pring

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has refused to consider an inquiry into its repeated failure to prevent the deaths of benefit claimants, despite the release of damning new information from nine secret reviews.

Key information from reviews into the deaths of nine benefit claimants had been requested by Disability News Service (DNS) in April – following the release of 49 earlier reviews – but DWP has only released it now after pressure from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Although most of the information from the reviews – previously known as peer reviews but now called internal process reviews – was redacted, DWP did release the authors’ recommendations for how procedures should be improved locally and nationally.

Those recommendations show that DWP staff repeatedly failed to follow strict guidelines on how to support benefit claimants who have expressed thoughts of self-harm or threatened to take their own lives, which were introduced in 2009.

That guidance – known as the six-point plan – “sets out the framework for managing suicide and self harm declarations from customers”.

The plan tells staff to “take the statement seriously”, “summon a colleague”, “gather information”, “provide referral advice – if the situation is non-urgent”, “summon emergency help”, and “review” the incident afterwards with their line manager.

DWP managers are supposed to use this framework to create their own local six point plans.

But the information released to DNS shows that with two of the nine deaths, which were all reviewed between August 2014 and January 2016, the author called for DWP to “remind staff about the Six Point Plan” and pointed out the need to “embed” the plan in DWP procedures because the failure to follow the guidance was “a recurring theme”.

Of the nine reviews, seven of them involved people who had taken their own lives, and five included recommendations for local or national improvements.

Other concerns raised by the reviews include the apparent use of out-of-date information to decide an employment and support allowance (ESA) claim, and benefits staff apparently failing to visit a claimant marked in their files as “vulnerable” who had failed to attend an assessment before their claim was rejected.

As in all nine cases, the claimant lost their life, although no other information is known about the circumstances of their deaths.

read more:

Linthorpe mum was involved in benefits dispute before she took own life, inquest hears

Joanne Smith was involved in an ongoing dispute with the Department of Work and Pensions over sick pay before her death

A mum was embroiled in a row over benefits before she took her own life, an inquest heard.

Joanne Smith was involved in an ongoing dispute with the Department of Work and Pensions over sick pay before her death, Teesside Coroner’s Court was told.

The 46-year-old was found hanged at her Middlesbrough home on June 29.

Ms Smith had lived at her home on Wakefield Road, in Linthorpe , for 30 years.

She had two children to partner Lee Grace, who said he believed the dispute was the reason for her depressed state of mind.

In a statement read out to the inquest, he said: “I don’t know for sure but I think Joanne was depressed.

“She had a sick note but the DWP had stopped paying her and this did upset her.”

Ms Smith suffered from asthma and arthritis. Her knee was badly damaged in a car accident when she was just 11, the inquest heard.

She had no history of depression or suicide attempts in the past.

read more here:

If you are having suicidal thoughts please call the Samaritans on their free phone number 116 123


DWP repeatedly warned of failures to protect vulnerable benefit claimants, internal documents reveal

Inquiries into the deaths of benefit claimants have revealed the government was repeatedly warned that vulnerable people were struggling to cope with benefit cuts, it has been reported.

The inquiries highlight a number of concerns that vulnerable people, including those with mental illnesses or learning disabilities, were not being sufficiently supported by Department for Work and Pensions staff or adequately protected from sudden benefit cuts, The Guardian reports.

The internal ‘peer review’ reports have been released to campaigners following a two year legal battle with the Department. The reports are undertaken by the government when a benefit claimant’s death appears to be “associated with DWP activity”. There is no suggestion that the DWP is responsible for the deaths.

49 reports have been released from February 2012 and August 2014, of which 40 are understood to relate to a person who has died as a result of suicide. Findings include that Department staff did not always follow guidelines when dealing with vulnerable people and reportedly often had issues with poor communication or rigidly sticking to policies rather than showing flexibility or common sense approaches.

A report into one death states: “We need to ask whether or not in the context of fast-moving environment of high [claimant re-assessment] volumes and anticipated levels of performance, the current process requires, encourages and supports… colleagues to independently and systematically consider claimant vulnerability.”

Another says: “This case may highlight a dislocation between policy intent and what actually happens to claimants who are vulnerable.”

In two cases investigators reportedly state that their inquiries were impaired as DWP records had been destroyed or were missing.

read more: