Benefit sanctions cause one in five claimant deaths

  • A report has found that one in five benefit claimants whose deaths were subject to official reviews had been sanction by the Department for Work and Pensions. /images/briefing/paytherent.jpg

    Following a freedom of information request from a research with Disabled People Against Cuts, Anita Bellows, the DWP have admitted that of the 49 peer reviews carried out into the deaths of benefit claimants, ten had received a sanction "at some point in their claim", reports 24dash.

    Ms Bellows told the Disability News Service: "Because DWP is refusing to publish these peer reviews, the only thing we can [assume] from their response is that one in five [of the] benefit claimants who committed suicide had sanctions recorded at some point in their claim. Although suicides cannot be attributed to a single cause or factor, it is right to question the role played by sanctions in these suicides, as they are under direct control of the secretary of state, who has the power to stop them immediately if they are proved to be a significant factor in claimants' deaths. It is also right to want to know whether sanctions have contributed to the deaths of other benefit claimants who did not commit suicide, as was the case with David Clapson [who died in 2013, two weeks after his benefits were sanctioned], and to pursue relentlessly this line of questioning with DWP to get to the truth."

    The DWP says that sanctions are a necessary part of the benefits system, with over 70% of claimants "more likely to follow the rules" if they know they risk having their benefits stopped.

    Employment Minister, Priti Patel said: "Our welfare reforms are transforming the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities and giving people the skills and opportunities to get on in life."

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