News28th August 2015

Tragic Loss of 2380 Lives Following Work Capability Assessments

A causal link has yet to be made, but the public will draw their own conclusions despite Ministerial warnings

by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

If you are one of the many people who have had to undertake the new Work Capability Assessment in recent years, the information reluctantly released by the Department of Work and Pensions about the death rate of people within 14 days of being told they are fit for work and will be losing their Employment and Support Allowance, will not necessarily come as a complete surprise, but it is, shocking.

After fighting Freedom of Information requests, the Information Commissioner's Office ruled that the DWP had to release the data, and whilst we are told, that as yet, there is no direct link proven between the assessment, the decision being communicated that the ESA is being withdrawn and the deaths occurring within 14 days, people will draw their own conclusions. I know I have.

Records show that 2380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 within 14 days of being told they were fit for work. TWO THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY!! Two would have been too many.

To put this number in perspective in respect of Government decision making and their political rhetoric around the loss of life, the number of our brave soldiers who have sadly lost their lives in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion stands at 454. Against this backdrop, it is easy to see why the Government fought so strongly to keep the information out of the public domain. 

Even without a proven correlation, you wonder how many people need to die, before someone with a modicum of common sense in the echelons of power, comes to the conclusion that this Government process is so completely broken that it should at least be suspended and preferably scrapped. If it means we have a status quo for a year, two years, even five years, until a better system is put in place, who cares? Surely that would be better than the risk that some or all of these 2380 deaths are directly related to the capability assessment, and that there will be a continuation of that rate of death until something changes. Quite frankly, it beggars belief!

Over the last few years I have heard lots of stories of woe about the way the capability assessment has been undertaken, as well as what is seen as the ridiculous decision making coming out of that process, especially in respect of people with severe disabilities. But the release of this data yesterday, has put a whole new story behind the impact of this Government procedure.

We have a wonderful attitude to life in this country, each persons well-being being seen as precious. When a life is lost through a criminal act, the police and criminal justice system invest significant resources on investigating the death, on finding and prosecuting the culprit. I am struggling to make sense of that long-held British value, and the complete disregard the British Government seem to have for the people caught up in this disaster called the Work Capability Assessment.

Ministers have said we cannot connect the deaths to their policy, but I hope that someone, somewhere has the balls to authorise proper research into this tragedy, and to make the findings public. If a correlation is proven, I further hope someone will be held responsible. For now, I would just welcome a decision to stop this barbaric outcome that is linked to our Government's policy.

Article by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

posted in Community / News

28th August 2015