Iain Duncan Smith has serious questions to answer
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has just published figures showing that between 2011 and 2014, 2,380 people died shortly after being declared ‘fit for work’.
Published in response to Freedom of Information requests, the statistics show that more than 50 people are dying each month just after a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has declared them fit for work.
These deaths relate to just two benefits, Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance (IB/SDA), both paid to people too ill or disabled to work.
Between December 2011 and February 2014:
270 former IB/SDA claimants died shortly (scans are conducted fortnightly for ESA and six-weekly for IB/SDA) after being declared fit for work and having their benefits withdrawn.
1,340 ESA claimants who had recently completed appeals against the fit for work assessment died.
The DWP document states that ‘the mortality rate [for people of working age out of work] has remained around three times higher than for the general population. There are a higher proportion of people who are sick or disabled amongst those on benefits than in the general population.’
The fact that the DWP feels this needs to be said at all speaks volumes about the way it treats sick and disabled people – with suspicion and lack of compassion.
These figures are truly alarming for disabled people, especially as they come just days after Iain Duncan Smith announced an overhaul of the WCA system which would force many sick and disabled people to work. An investigation is also currently underway into the deaths of people who have recently had their benefits sanctioned.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward
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