On 7 August, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) insulted millions of disabled people. It issued a tweet that totally ignored nine years of Conservative-led cruelty, benefit cuts, and a situation for disabled people in this country that’s so bad, the UN called it a “human catastrophe”.
Having a disability should not be a barrier to enjoying a fulfilling career. #AccessToWork is helping to make our workplaces more inclusive, writes Minister for Disabled People @JustinTomlinson #DisabilityConfident https://t.co/T72eMQZyyf
— DWP Press Office (@dwppressoffice) August 7, 2019
“Stop killing people and harming so many more!”
No matter what the DWP says, some disabled people simply can’t work. And the situation for those people is terrifying. They face constant assessments, humiliation and financial destitution from benefit cuts. Too many disabled people, meanwhile, are now dead as a result of DWP actions.
As The Canary has reported for some time, the government’s flawed and controversial Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and ongoing welfare cuts have left thousands of disabled people in financial crisis. Tragically, others have died after being declared ‘fit for work‘. Government records show that, between 2011 and 2014 alone, 2,380 people died after being declared fit for work. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, the situation is so bad that Labour MP Debbie Abrahams has called for a full investigation into DWP-related deaths and asked that any evidence of wrongdoing be handed to the police.
So the DWP’s tweet, quite rightly, caused outrage:
END the HARASSMENT on sick and incapacitated who CAN NOT WORK AT ALL!
Stop making them go through hoops!
Stop the 'criminal' dishonest Assessments!
Stop the LIES and DENIALS!
Stop killing people and harming so many more!
— BENEFITS NEWS (@BENEFITS_NEWS) August 7, 2019
The @DWP is responsible for #EconomicMurder, #Suicide & the persecution of poor, sick & disabled people, on behalf of the @Conservatives #ConsciousCruelty #ToriesKill #DWPCrimes
Never Forgive, Never Forget pic.twitter.com/cTvgRTkMQc
— 🌟🌟🌟 Sandy Mc 🌟🌟🌟 (@SandyMcG66) August 7, 2019
Some people can't work when will you get that into your disgusting tory ideological thick as mince vile Murdering heads! & How do you Bastards look after those that can't work? Complicit in Murder forced poverty child poverty Homelessness Human Rights Abuse Demonising etc pic.twitter.com/WQFTi0AsB5
— John Ritchie #GTTO (@LfcJmr) August 7, 2019
Others, meanwhile, pointed to the shocking news of Victoria Smith’s death. Capita, one of the private outsourcing companies used by the DWP, stopped Smith’s Personal Independence Payments (PIP) despite medical evidence. She died weeks later. Capita has since tried to block a successful legal challenge from Smith’s mother.
— Bad Putty Tat (@BadPutty) August 7, 2019
A “human catastrophe”
In 2017, the UN described the situation in the UK as a “human catastrophe” due to “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights under successive Conservative-led governments.
As a disabled rights group noted, the UN also established that:
- 62% of people that the DWP sanctions live with mental health issues.
- 10,600 people died after their benefit claims ended.
- 90 people a month are dying after the DWP declares them ‘fit-for-work’.
- 590 people have taken their own life due, in part, to DWP fit-for-work tests.
Minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson quite rightly explained that there are “nearly seven million working age adults” in the UK who’re also disabled. And for some, the government’s Access to Work scheme may indeed be a huge help. But he completely ignored the brutal reality for those people under this Conservative government. Perhaps this should come as no surprise since his voting record shows he’s consistently voted to cut benefits for disabled people. Yet Tomlinson claimed that this scheme is life-changing:
The support worker budget awarded through Access to Work means Ross now makes a living, owns a home, goes on holidays and lives life on his own terms.
It’s not clear what reality Tomlinson lives in, but it’s certainly not the same one that most disabled people in the UK live in.
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