By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:
Fit for work ruling ’caused suicide’
Tuesday 22nd September 2015
Coroner directly blames assessment regime for death
The Disability News Service (DNS) unearthed the coroner’s report, saying yesterday that it appeared to be the first case in which a coroner explicitly linked Department for Work and Pensions sanctions to a death.
His GP declared that he was unable to work while a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist both confirmed that he was suffering from chronic depression, anxiety and agoraphobia.
But the assessor did not request the doctors’ supporting documents before making the decision after 90-minute assessment, the coroner said.
The “trigger” for Mr O’Sullivan’s suicide was “his recent assessment by a DWP doctor as being fit for work,” senior coroner Mary Hassell wrote in January last year.
She warned the DWP in the report: “There is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.”
Disabled People Against Cuts cofounder Debbie Jolly told the Star: “Once again we have evidence that the work capability assessment system that is literally killing people.
“The government can no longer say there is no causality, now that we know there is.”
The loss of Mr O’Sullivan’s life, and those of others, were caused by a government “intent on reducing welfare at any price,” Ms Jolly continued.
She added: “We owe a debt of gratitude to John Pring of the DNS for exposing the coroner’s report on this tragic and avoidable death.”
More than 50,000 people on ESA died within a year of undergoing assessments between May 2010 and February 2014, the Star reported last month.
ESA is then often downgraded to the lower rate of jobseeker’s allowance if an assessor decides a claimant is capable of working.
The DWP had claimed that it does not hold any information on the reasons for death, so “no causal effect” with changes in claimants’ benefits and mortality can be assumed from statistics.
But shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith said the circumstances of Mr O’Sullivan’s death were “rotten” and the assessment process urgently needed to change.
If the DWP is forced to publish its secret records on benefits claimants’ suicides, everything could change. In cases like suicide, stories are important. If we let a government keep our stories secret, we give it permission to rewrite history: here.
Poor hit hardest by UK Conservatives’ July budget: here.
Phillip Herron, a single parent from Durham, England, is another victim of the UK’s punitive benefits system and the decades-long onslaught against the working class. The 34-year-old father of three children was driven to suicide while waiting a month for his Universal Credit (UC) welfare payment to come through. At the time of his death he had just £4.61 in the bank. One can only imagine his desperation: here.