More than a thousand sickness benefit claimants died last year after being told to get a job, we can reveal. We've highlighted worries about the controversial medical tests for people claiming Employment Support Allowance which are being used to slash the country's welfare bill. The Government has boasted that more than half of new claimants are found "fit to work" - failing to mention that over 300,000 have appealed the decision and almost 40% have won.
We've used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that, between January and August last year, 1,100 claimants died after they were put in the "work-related activity group". This group - which accounted for 21% of all claimants at the last count - get a lower rate of benefit for one year and are expected to go out and find work.
This compares to 5,300 deaths of people who were put in the "support group" -which accounts for 22% of claimants - for the most unwell, who get the full, no-strings benefit of up to £99.85 a week. We don't know how many people died after being found "fit to work", the third group, as that information was "not available".
We have also found that 1,600 people died before their assessment had been completed.
But there are plenty of tragic cases - such as that of David Groves who died from a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. The 56year-old from Staveley, Derbyshire, worked for 40 years as a miner and telecoms engineer but stopped on doctors' orders after an earlier heart attack and a string of strokes. His widow Sandra said: "When Dave was called in for a medical, he felt like he was back to square one. "He wasin a terrible state by the day he died. It was the stress that killed him, I'm sure." Stephen Hill, 53, of Duckmanton, Derbyshire, died of a heart attack in December, one month being told he was "fit to work", even though he was waiting for major heart surgery.
Citizens Advice told us it has found "a number of cases" of people dying soon after being found fit for work. "There seems to be a clear link between the cause of death and the condition they were suffering from that led to the claim," said Katie Lane, head of welfare policy.
WCA Outcome at most recent assessment and number of claimants with a recorded date of death
Assessment not complete 1,600
Work Related Activity Group 1,100
Support Group 5,300 Total 8,000
All figures have been rounded to the nearest 100. Data on the number of ESA claimants that have died following a fit for work decision is not available, as the Department does not hold information on a death if the person has already left benefit. The Department does not hold information on the number of claimants who died whilst an appeal was in progress.
We then asked for:
Clarification on whether these figures are only new ESA claims or whether they include the transfer from Incapacity Benefit?
We were told: These figures only cover new ESA claims - claims from IB recipients are not included.
However, there are more figures on the outcome of Work Capability Assessments on the DWP website.
Therefore, the work capability test is akin to a 'cull'', of the weak and the most vulnerable members of our society. If there are many more deaths in the years to come it will be more like genocide of disabled and unhealthy people. Isn't that what Hitler did to the Jews?
You can read the full article here at http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigat...ailing-in.html