Calls for police to investigate DWP as 90 people die each month

The DWP logo and grave stones
Support us and go ad-free

Labour MP Debbie Abrahams has called for a full investigation into Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) related deaths. She’s also asked that any evidence of wrongdoing be handed to the police.

“Fit for work”

On 13 May, Abrahams raised serious concerns about “the number of people” who’ve died “after being found fit for work”. Abrahams’ question referred specifically to DWP figures from 2015. These revealed that, between 2011 and 2014, 2,380 people died after being declared fit for work. This was roughly 90 people each month.

Abrahams called on work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd to publish any existing “internal reviews” relating to “those who have died”. Abrahams also asked Rudd to “commit to an independent inquiry”. But significantly, she asked:

 Will she [Rudd] ensure that if any evidence of wrongdoing by someone in public office is found, that information will be forwarded to the police?

Although Abrahams’ question referred to people the DWP found fit for work, this may be the tip of the iceberg. Because as The Canary reported, the DWP admitted in January that over 21,000 sick and disabled people also died waiting for it to give them benefits. That’s nearly 12 people a day dying, waiting for a decision over their claims.

Work capability assessment

In response to Abrahams’ questions, Conservative minister Justin Tomlinson said the government is:

committed… to make improvements. There have been two independent reviews of the work capability assessment, and we have accepted and implemented over 100 improvements. We will continue to do all that we can to improve the process for claimants.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Yet growing evidence suggests that there are serious reasons to be concerned about DWP work capability assessments (WCA). These form the basis of fit-for-work declarations for sick and disabled people. But they’re hugely controversial.

As The Canary also reported in April 2018, campaigners and medical professionals discovered the DWP trying to “coerce” GPs into saying that their sick and disabled patients are fit for work.

Previously, GPs’ fit notes (sick notes) were often enough to prove to the DWP that someone was not fit for work. But changes brought in via the Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability green paper in 2017 stopped this. Now, once a claimant is declared fit for work following a WCA, the DWP ignores any GPs’ evidence and fit notes, except during an appeal.

In June 2018, the DWP updated its guidance for disability assessors. Among other things, its Revised Work Capability Assessment handbook told assessors that it’s “not appropriate” to ask to see scars from self-harm.

Lack of trust

As the Mirror pointed out in April 2018, 68% of people who appealed against assessment decisions for personal independence payments (PIP) had them overturned by a tribunal. But tragically, it’s clear too many people die before they can appeal.

The Work and Pensions Committee said that some PIP assessment reports, which are carried out by private companies, were “riddled with errors”. The DWP decided to ensure all PIP assessments are recorded. It also acknowledged a “lack of trust in the assessment process”. So the DWP itself effectively admitted to being untrustworthy and not fit for purpose.

Abrahams’ call is vitally important to seek justice for all those who’ve died and also to prevent any further deaths. Indicating the need for a police investigation is a shocking indictment of this Tory government.

Featured images via Geograph / Wikimedia – UK Government

Support us and go ad-free

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Calls for police to investigate DWP as 90 people die each month
      well will Tory D.W.P. Minister Ms RUDD lisen? “I do not think so as she is after Ms May job now so must look good to party by enforcing the Tory made SCAM U-CREDIT
      problem to keep killing people off not just claimant the U-credit mess is connected to the low paid working wages now so they create the poverty in our country that is fast getting out of hand with this SCAM U-CREDIT MESS.
      That is of Tory Govt making ONLY and can be binned at any time.
      But Tory Govt could-be or maybe useing the unpaid claimant cash from
      U-CREDIT to keep Tory party afloat now.(by withholding payment to claiments)
      In addition, paying for its incompetent Tory Minister deals that have gone down the toilet they all made in backrooms of Parliament not informing the H.O.Commons parties of the deals done untill they ask for our taxpayer cash in debates now in H.O.Commons.
      And people dying on U-credit well this is no problem to the Tory Govt all think,
      as all Tory party member in Govt NOW they hid the true figures of deaths by
      the Tory SCAM U-CREDIT MESS by D.W.P. Minister failing to claiments they
      hide the truth hoping it will go away from us voter.

    2. Also, investigate what I call “The Death Of Suicide” I personally (As a friend of these people) know of 5 people that have killed themselves, in situations and circumstances that could lead to NO OTHER CONCLUSION than that of suicide, where the inquest outcome has been “misadventure” or some other outcome, rather than SUICIDE.

    3. The fact is that people, whether or not working have been forced onto benefits.
      what we now have is weaponised, enforced deep abject poverty deliberately designed to cause genocide. The proof that it has been and is now deliberate and designed to cause death to those forcibly made poor is that even when it became indisputable that many people who wouldn’t have died did die, as a direct result of the benefit system changes for many years now, and not applicable to Universal Credit alone but also applicable to changemostother other benefits in addition to Universal Credit. Yet despite undeniable evidence, this and the previous governments refused to abolish the changes but instead merely tweaked them insufficiently enough to prevent further suffering and deaths.

      Genocide is an international criminal offence.

      Therefore, why are not the UN, The International Court of Human Rights, the EU and other such powerful organisations arresting and charging the Politicians and Peers who have directly been involved in designing and voting in the cruel and murderous changes?
      If they were wanted German Nazis they would have been up in the Hague The crime of genocide is as serious wherever it is done, so why have they not been arrested?

      In addition, the Advisors who helped design the changes and advised governments to implement them, whether they are public or commercial employees or are self-employed freelance.

      Also the commercial and publicly employed Assessors who have been proven to have lied when their lies have resulted in wrongful loss of benefits.

      This is a serious major international ongoing criminal offence, yet no organisation forces our governments to stop their genocide nor arrests even one PM or any responsible?
      I believe the reason it hasn’t been stopped and no arrests have been made of any responsible is that as (yet another) bankster related top politician and PM David Cameron stated, they indeed ARE “all in it together” – he obviously didn’t mean they were in austerity with the public. That would have been a ridiculous clain. He did mean that he and his colleagues etc were all together in enforcing weaponised abject poverty on so many of the public, and TM’s governments have clearly conspired in continuing and worsening the tyranny and murders by poverty.

    4. I apologise for spelling and spacing errors above, due to strong painkillers affecting my concentration and attention to detail when writin more than a couple of sentences. Also due to my eyesight being a bit blurry.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.