Figures find thousands of benefit claimants died after found fit for work
Welfare overhaul is being demanded by campaigners following statistic showing 2,830 people have died between 2011 and 2014 after being declared able to work.
Over 80 people a month have died shortly after being declared “fit to work” prompting campaigners to call for an overhaul of the government’s welfare system, reports the Guardian.
Figures from the DWP have found that 2.380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after being found fit to work. Campaigners have called the administration of the work capability assessment crude and inaccurate and are calling for a change to the system.
Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind, said: “We’re not able to comment on these specific statistics as they only tell us the number of people who have died while on employment and support allowance [ESA], not the circumstances or details of these deaths. Nevertheless, we do have serious concerns about the benefit system, particularly for those with mental health problems currently being supported by ESA. The assessment used to decide who is eligible for ESA does not properly take account of the impact having a mental health problem can have on someone’s ability to work. As a result, many people don’t get the outcome that’s right for them, and have to go through a lengthy and stressful appeals process. We desperately need to see an overhaul of the system, with more tailored specialised support for people with mental health problems and less focus on pressuring people into work and stopping their benefits.”
The DWP defended the accuracy of the WCA. It said: “Any causal effect between benefits and mortality cannot be assumed from these statistics. Additionally, these isolated figures provide limited scope for analysis and nothing can be gained from this publication that would allow the reader to form any judgment as to the effects or impacts of the work capability assessment. The DWP does not hold information on the reason for death, therefore no causal effect between the WCA decision and the number of people who died within a year of that decision should be assumed from these figures.”
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