Remembering the Victims of the Government’s Welfare “Reforms”

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“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” – Haile Selassie.

Welfare that is not welfare

I believe that welfare provision is NOT a State “handout” or “something for nothing”. It is paid for by us via taxes, and is for us, to provide support at times of need and vulnerability, such as if we are sick or have an accident and become disabled or unemployed (Firstly these are circumstances that may happen to anyone, people may lose their job, perhaps due to recession – some are now calling it a depression – that has been created and perpetuated by a totally ideologically-bound and morally unresponsive Government, for example).

The fact that I felt I had to state that at all indicates plainly just how terribly effective the Government’s anti-welfare propaganda and calumny has been. Huddled in defiant bewilderment, in the face of the finger-pointing, bullying, the mean-spirited, the spiteful, the hideous, dehumanising Tory-led ideological rantings, we – the persecuted, marginalised and disabled – continue to organise and fight. We have to.

Our lives have become political and public property, and we are being subjected to imposing and increasing physical and existential limits constantly. We are no longer a part of a civilised and kindly Society that celebrates the achievements of disabled people. We are marginalised, stigmatised and disavowed, we are scapegoated, dehumanised and reduced to socio-economic refugees. We are transformed by the media into undeserving folk devils and the Government are generating moral outrage regarding how much we are “costing” the State.

It’s a well known bullying tactic to blame the victim. It’s rather like the mugger shouting loudly that he is being mugged, before, after, and whilst he is busy robbing you.

We know the current benefit system is no longer about welfare, and current policies do not have a core principle –  implicitly or explicitly, despite the rhetoric –  of ensuring or promoting the well-being of sick and disabled people, or any other vulnerable person. The welfare “reforms” – and the word “reform” implies some positive change that certainly isn’t evident here  –  are entirely about stripping away our paid for welfare provision – our social security.

Not one single Tory “reform” is about enhancing lives: they are all about taking money and support away, and so stifling our potential for positive experiences. Through a combination of changes to existing benefits and the new Universal Credit, the UK Government aims to cut £18 billion off welfare “spending”. A further £10 billion is to be cut from benefit provision in the near future.

“When we struggle to meet basic physical needs, we cannot transcend our biology and fulfil other human needs. We become bound and captured by the physical.” –  Abraham Maslow

Benefit rates were originally carefully calculated by a body of professionals and officials to meet basic living requirements only, such as food, shelter and fuel costs. Benefit rates have never reflected anything more than a financial amount to meet these fundamental human needs. Our welfare provision has eradicated absolute poverty in Britain, and has been an essential lifeline for many citizens, in times of their need of support. Until now. Benefit rates were set at the amount “the law says you need to live on”. If people cannot meet their basic living requirements, they struggle, suffer and die. It’s a fact.

Furthermore, Maslow tells us that if we are struggling to survive, we cannot possibly fulfil other human needs and motivations.

I know I am not alone in having grave concerns about the fact that the Government have recently introduced harsh sanctions of up to three years without benefits for all benefit claimants, the only ones being exempt from sanctions currently are those placed in the ESA Support Group. This is only a proportionally small number of claimants that will remain unaffected. The Conservatives claim that the sanctions will “help people into work” and are to be applied to those who “fail” to meet certain “conditions” to look for work. We know, however, that sanctions are applied often without any justifiable reasons because the DWP  deliberately set people up to fail, and we also know that the Government sets sanction targets for the DWP.  There cannot be any justification for depriving people of lifeline benefits.

Firstly, only a very cruel and injudicious Government would punish people for being out of work during an economic recession in this way. Secondly, removing people’s means of meeting fundamental survival needs by sanctioning them is most certainly not going to motivate them and “help them into work” as the Government are claiming. Those people will be so entirely pre-occupied with fighting for survival that they won’t be capable of looking for imaginary jobs, and the existing low paid zero hour contracts are not going to provide a route out of poverty. These are the “jobs” that the Government conjure from the aether and transform into dishonest statistics.

“Evidence also suggests that work can have a positive impact on the long term health of people with disabilities and health conditions,” according to the Government, but we have yet to see convincing evidence of this. Those in the ESA Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) are expected, from December 3rd 2012, to undertake unlimited periods of mandatory workfare in order to meet conditions for continued eligibility.

This means that sick and disabled people are at an increased risk of being sanctioned, because the condition of qualifying for this benefit in the first place is that a doctor has provided a statement to say that the person claiming is unfit for work. That would be unfit for ANY work, including unpaid and grossly exploitative workfare programs. There clearly is a monumental problem regarding Government expectations of those in this group. Once again, the sanctions raise some serious concerns regarding the Government’s casual transgression of human rights.

The Minister for Employment at the time that this Government decided to apply sanctions to sick and disabled people, as well to job seekers, for up to three years, was the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP. He made the following official statement regarding the new sanctions regime and Human Rights:

“In my view the provisions of the Jobseeker’s Allowance Sanctions Amendment Regulations 2012  are compatible with the Convention rights.”

Phew! For a moment, we thought that denying people the basic requirements needed for life for up to 3 years, and as a punishment, was a gross breach of Articles 2, 5, 9 and 14 at the VERY least. Glad you cleared that up Mr Grayling…

However, someone really ought to send Chris Grayling, Mark Hoban, Lord Freud and Iain Duncan Smith and the rest of the Tories a copy of Maslow’s Hierarchy. But the chances are that the Tories would simply dismiss it as “anecdotal“.

Not that I believe for one moment that this Government don’t know about Maslow’s Hierarchy, or that they don’t possess the common sense understanding that if you remove the means that sick and disabled people have of fulfilling their basic physical needs, they will most likely die.

Iain Duncan Smith refused to undertake a cumulative impact assessment of the Welfare Reforms. I am certain that is because he KNEW in advance what the impact and consequences of stripping the most basic income from the most vulnerable members of society would be. And after being confronted with evidence of the terrible consequences of the reforms, Duncan Smith has denied there is a “causal link” between the deaths and Tory policies.

A Department for Work and Pensions FOI reveals that people having their claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) stopped, between October 2010 and November 2011, with a recorded date of death within six weeks of that claim ceasing, who were until recently claiming Incapacity Benefit, totaled 310. Between January and November 2011, those having their ESA claim ended, with a recorded date of death within six weeks of that claim ending totaled 10,600. Bearing in mind that those who were successfully migrated to ESA from Incapacity Benefit (IB) were assessed and deemed unfit for work, (under a different assessment process, originally) one would expect that the death rates would be similar to those who have only ever claimed ESA. This is very clearly not the case.

Furthermore, there are NO alarming increases in death rates amongst those who are still in receipt of Incapacity Benefit – there were approximately a million and a half claimants, compared to less than a million ESA claimants for this period. Many of those migrated so far have not yet had a Work Capability Assessment, as the Government decided to re-assess those people when their review from the Incapacity Benefit Personal Capability Assessment is due, for practical reasons. The migration process won’t be completed, it is anticipated, until 2014.

David Green from the DWP has urged that “care should therefore be taken when interpreting these figures”. Well I HAVE taken care interpreting this data, Mr Green. My careful interpretation is that the Government are directly responsible for the deaths of a significant proportion of those 10,600 people claiming ESA via its “Reforms”. Incapacity Benefit was fair, and reflected genuine welfare provision. The Reforms, including the new Tory-shaped ESA benefit, by stark contrast, are all about taking support and provision away from the vulnerable.

Indeed, the Tories have been very keen to articulate the welfare “savings” that they anticipated with regard to the disability benefits, including PIP, which is replacing DLA. But of course, these anticipated “savings” reflect a dark truth: the Government are setting targets to remove benefits from people, regardless of the impact of that imposed deprivation (and frank State theft of our tax funded welfare) on their well-being, health and safety.

Those on IB were not required to have continuous assessments, whereas those on ESA are constantly required to have the Work Capability Assessment. Many claimants have described a “revolving door” process of endless assessment, ceased ESA claim, (based on an outcome of almost invariably being wrongly “assessed” as fit for work), appeal, successful appeal outcome, benefit reinstated, only to find just 3 months later another assessment is required. The uncertainty, and loss of even a basic material security that this process creates, leading to a constant fear and anxiety, is having a negative impact on the health and well-being of so many.

A significant proportion of those required to have endless assessments have very obviously serious illnesses such as cancer, kidney failure, lung disease, heart disease, severe and life threatening chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, myalgic encephalomyelitis, rheumatoid arthritis, brain tumours, severe heart conditions, and severe mental health illness, for example. To qualify for ESA, the claimant must provide a note from a doctor stating that the person is unfit for work. There can be no justification for subjecting people who are so ill to further endless assessments, and for treating us as if we have done something wrong.

Negative labelling, marginalising and stigmatising the vulnerable via propaganda in the media, using despiteful and malicious terms such as “workshy” and “feckless” is a major part of the Government’s malevolent “justification” to the public for removing the lifeline of support from the sick and disabled. We are climbing Allport’s Ladder. That gives us a clear view of a far-right ideological realm. I have often suspected that Iain Duncan Smith is channeling the spirit of Goebbels.

In addition to justified anxieties regarding the marked increase in disability hate crime that the Tory-led propaganda campaign has resulted in, many sick and disabled people have also stated that they feel harassed and bullied by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Atos. Many talk of the dread they feel when they see the brown Atos envelope containing the ESA50 form arrive through the letter box.

The strain of constantly fighting for ESA entitlement and perpetually having to prove that we are a “deserving” and “genuine” sick and disabled person is clearly taking a toll on so many people’s health and well-being. Many families of those who have died have said that the constant strain, anxiety and stress of this revolving door process has contributed significantly to their loved ones’ decline in health and subsequent death. The figures from the DWP, and the marked contrast between the ESA and IB death statistics certainly substantiate these claims.

The unforgivable, senseless and massive increase in deaths over this period coincides with the Government’s totalitarian styled rapid- fire legislation of the Reforms, in the face of protest, horror, disbelief, fear and mass opposition. The Tories cited “financial privilege” to trample over opposition, and drown out the voices of protest. Those protesting and challenging this Bill notably included many from the House of Lords.

David Cameron made a Freudian-style slip when he announced to Ed Miliband recently, during Parliamentary debate, that We are raising more money for the rich. Not that we didn’t already know this was so. Many of us – around 73 sick and disabled people every week –  are paying for that wealth increase for the already wealthy with our very lives.

Where is the public outcry?

There are many who have so tragically and needlessly lost their lives because of this malicious Government’s brutal, evil and grossly unjust ideological war on the vulnerable, because of the Tory-led economic ransacking and plundering of our welfare provision, public services and support programs. We have pointed out to the Government that people are dying as a consequence of their “reforms”. The Government have not investigated those deaths and they have persistently refused to acknowledge them. We must therefore assume that they have no intention of changing their policies that are increasingly explicitly informed by a Social Darwinist and eugenicist doctrine.

We must never forget this Government’s culpability. We must fight and we must succeed in ending this systematic abuse of our human rights, and we must also ensure that this evil and abhorrent affront to decent and civilised human beings never happens again.

People are dying because of government policies. I never thought that this could happen here in the UK. But it has. We must face it, and we must fight it together. That is what a civilised society must do.

We must not forget the loss of each of these equally precious lives.

Remembering:

Paul Reekie, 48, left no suicide note but a letter informing him that his welfare benefits were to be stopped were found next to his body.

Richard Sanderson, 44, drew up meticulous suicide plans after learning he could no longer afford the flat he shared with his wife and nine-year-old son after being told their housing benefit would be cut by £30 a month. Richard stabbed himself twice through the heart.

Paul Willcoxson, 33, had mental health problems and was found hanging in Pignals Enclosure, near Hollands Wood campsite. A suicide letter and next of kin note were found in which he expressed concerns about the cuts to his benefits.

Leanne Chambers, 30, her body was found in the river Weir five months after she walked out of her home, she had battled depression for a number of years and had taken a turn for the worse after receiving a letter telling her she had to be assessed by a doctor she did not know, to see if she was fit to return to work.

Elaine Christian, 57, was found in a drain after walking out of her home. A post mortem revealed she had died from drowning, despite having more than ten self-inflicted cuts on her wrists. The inquest in Hull was told Mrs Christian had been deeply worried about a meeting she was due to have to discuss her entitlement to disability benefits.

Terry McGarvey, 48. Dangerously ill from polycytheamia, Terry asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn’t well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not.
He died the following day.

David Groves, 56, died of a massive heart ­attack the night before his medical assessment, as he sat at his computer and scoured the Internet for ways to raise cash in case he lost his entitlement.

Mark and Helen Mullins were found lying side by side in their home after committing suicide together. They had been left destitute after Helen had her claim for benefit turned down, they had no food, no heating and no electric.

Linda Knott, 46, had worked as a supervisor at the Brierley Community Centre in Little Hulton for 16 years before it fell victim to spending cuts. The news tipped her into depression and she had already taken an overdose of pills eight days before she was found hanging at her home in Walkden.

Jack Shemtob, 53 jumped to his death from his office building after human resources told him he was losing his job as part of the governments cost cutting programme.

Stephen Hill, 53, died of a heart attack a month after having his benefits were stopped, after being told his heart problem were not serious enough to stop him working.

Craig Monk, 43, was found hanging in his home, he had a partial amputation of his leg and was described by his family as “vulnerable” he became depressed that his benefits had been cut.

Mark Wood, 44. Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died.

Carl Payne, 42. Fears of losing his lifeline benefits due to welfare reform led this Father of two to take his own life.

Tim Salter, 53. Blind and suffering from Agoraphobia. Tim hanged himself after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.

Edward Jacques, 47 years old and suffering from HIV and Hepatitis C. Edward had a history of severe depression and self-harm. He took a fatal overdose after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.

Linda Wootton, 49 years old. A double heart and lung transplant patient. Died just nine days after the government found her fit for work, their refusal letter arriving as she lay desperately ill in her hospital bed.

Steven Cawthra, 55. His benefits stopped by the DWP and with rising debts, he saw suicide as the only way out of a desperate situation.

Elenore Tatton, 39 years old. Died just weeks after the government found her fit for work.

John Walker, 57, saddled with debt because of the bedroom tax, John took his own life.

Jacqueline Harris, 53. A former Nurse who could hardly walk was found fit for work by Atos and her benefits withdrawn. in desperation, she took her own life.

David Barr, 28. Suffering from severe mental difficulties. Threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal.

David Groves, 56. Died of a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. His widow claimed that it was the stress that killed him.

Nicholas Peter Barker, 51. Shot himself after being told his benefits were being stopped. He was unable to work after a brain haemorrhage left him paralysed down one side.

Martin Rust, 36, a schizophrenic had his benefits cut and was ordered back to work. He left a note saying: “To those I love, I’m sorry. Goodbye.” Coroner William Armstrong said the DWP’s decision “caused distress and may well have had an adverse effect”, recording that Mr Rust had committed suicide while suffering from a treatment-resistant mental illness.

Paul Turner, 52 died from ischaemic heart disease, which was caused, his family claim, by the stress of losing his benefits. He was told his heart problems were not serious enough for him not to work, he died 4 weeks later.

Mark Scott, 46, who suffered from anxiety, epilepsy was left penniless when he was declared fit for work and his benefits were stopped. He died six weeks later in the Southport flat where he lived alone.

Elaine Lowe, 53. Suffering from COPD and fearful of losing her benefits. In desperation, Elaine chose to commit suicide.

Larry Newman suffered from a degenerative lung condition, his weight dropping from 10 to 7 stone. Atos awarded him zero points, he died just three months after submitting his appeal.

Paul Turner, 52 years old. After suffering a heart attack, he was ordered to find a job in February. In April Paul died from ischaemic heart disease.

Robert Barlow, 47. Suffering from a brain tumour, a heart defect and awaiting a transplant, Robert was deemed fit for work by Atos and his benefits were withdrawn. He died penniless less than two years later.

Carl Joseph Foster-Brown, 58. As a direct consequence of the wholly unjustifiable actions of the Job centre and DWP, this man took his own life.

Martin Hadfield, 20 years old. Disillusioned with the lack of jobs available in this country but too proud to claim benefits. Utterly demoralised, Martin took his own life by hanging himself.

Annette Francis, 30. A mum-of-one suffering from severe mental illness, found dead after her disability benefits were ceased.

Ian Jordan, 60. His benefits slashed after Atos and the DWP declared Ian, a sufferer of Barratt’s Oesophagus, fit for work, caused him to run up massive debts in order to survive. Ian was found dead in his flat after taking an overdose.

Janet McCall, 53. Terminally ill with pulmonary fibrosis and declared ‘Fit for Work’ by Atos and the DWP, this lady died 5 months after her benefits were stopped.

Stuart Holley, 23. A man driven to suicide by the DWP’s incessant pressure and threat of sanctions for not being able to find a job.

Graham Shawcross, 63. A sufferer of the debilitating disease, Addison’s. Died of a heart attack due to the stress of an Atos ‘Fit for Work’ decision.

Christopher Charles Harkness, 39. After finding out that the funding for his care home was being withdrawn, this man who suffered with mental health issues, took his own life.

Chris Smith, 59. Declared ‘Fit for Work’ by Atos as he lay dying of Cancer in his hospital bed.

Nathan Hartwell, 36, died of heart failure after an 18-month battle with the ­Department for Works and Pensions.

Michael Connolly, 60. A Father of One, increasingly worried about finances after his benefits were cut. Committed suicide by taking 13 times the fatal dose of prescription medicine on the 30th October – His Birthday.

Jan Mandeville, 52, A lady suffering from Fibromyalgia, driven to the point of mental and physical breakdown by this governments welfare reforms. Jan was found dead in her home after battling the DWP for ESA and DLA.

Trevor Drakard, 50 years old. A shy and reserved, severe epileptic who suffered regular and terrifying fits almost his entire life, hounded to suicide by the DWP who threatened to stop his life-line benefits.
Death of a severely disabled Dorset resident, unnamed, who took her own life while battling the bedroom tax.

Sandra Louise Moon, 57. Suffering from a degenerative back condition, depression and increasingly worried about losing her incapacity benefit. Sandra committed suicide by taking an overdose.

Lee Robinson, 39 years old. Took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax were taken away from him.

David Coupe, 57. A Cancer sufferer found fit for work by Atos in 2012. David lost his sight, then his hearing, then his mobility, and then his life.

Michael McNicholas, 34. Severely depressed and a recovering alcoholic. Michael committed suicide after being called in for a Work Capability Assessment by Atos.

Victor Cuff, 59 and suffering from severe depression. Victor hanged himself after the DWP stopped his benefits.

Charles Barden, 74. Charles committed suicide by hanging due to fears that the Bedroom Tax would leave him destitute and unable to cope.

Ian Caress, 43. Suffered multiple health issues and deteriorating eyesight. Ian was found fit for work by Atos, he died ten months later having lost so much weight that his family said that he resembled a concentration camp victim.

Iain Hodge, 30. Suffered from the life threatening illness, Hughes Syndrome. Found fit for work by Atos and benefits stopped, Iain took his own life.

Wayne Grew, 37. Severely depressed due to government cuts and the fear of losing his job, Wayne committed suicide by hanging.

Kevin Bennett, 40. Kevin a sufferer of schizophrenia and mental illness became so depressed after his JSA was stopped that he became a virtual recluse. Kevin was found dead in his flat several months later.

David Elwyn Hughs Harries, 48. A disabled man who could no longer cope after his parents died, could find no help from the government via benefits. David took an overdose as a way out of his solitude.

Denis Jones, 58. A disabled man crushed by the pressures of government cuts, in particular the Bedroom Tax, and unable to survive by himself. Denis was found dead in his flat.

Shaun Pilkington, 58. Unable to cope any more, Shaun shot himself dead after receiving a letter from the DWP informing him that his ESA was being stopped.

Peter Duut, a Dutch national with terminal cancer living in the UK for many years found that he was not entitled to benefits unless he was active in the labour market. Peter died leaving his wife destitute, and unable to pay for his funeral.

George Scollen, age unknown. Took his own life after the government closed the Remploy factory he had worked in for 40 years.

Julian Little, 47. Wheelchair bound and suffering from kidney failure, Julian faced the harsh restrictions of the Bedroom Tax and the loss of his essential dialysis room. He died shortly after being ordered to downgrade.

Karen Sherlock  08.06.2012, died after a long and difficult fight, losing her benefits after being told she was fit for work, and after finally winning her appeal. Karen had diabetes with kidney complications. http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/voices/2012/06/disability-karen-sherlock-sue-marsh

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2180899/Flawed-disability-tests-send-genuinely-sick-unable-work.html

Cecilia Burns 31. 8. 2012,  A cancer sufferer, who had her benefits cut by government officials who said she was fit to work, has died. Cecilia was 51, from Strabane, County Tyrone, had started a campaign in February to have the decision overturned. Ms Burns had her benefits cut after she was assessed by government contractor Atos Healthcare. She had her benefits reinstated just a few weeks ago but died on Monday.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19433535

Colin Traynor, 29, was passed as being able to work as part of the government’s overhaul of the welfare system. He appealed against the decision but died before finding out the result, which was ultimately successful. His family learned the appeal verdict five weeks after his death in April. Mr Traynor’s father Ray said: “I firmly believe – 100% believe – that the system this government introduced has killed my son.” http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/09/26/atos-disability-benefits-colin-traynor-epilepsy-_n_1917042.html

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4199739

Brian McArdle . A three year old’s father collapses & dies the day after his benefits were stopped having been ‘declared fit for work.’

“My father was claiming ESA for his chest pain (which was on the forms as indigestion/acid reflux, but I am sure he was on tablets for Angina) his difficulty walking and his poor eyesight. 4 weeks after he was called by ESA to tell him that he was fit for work (and a couple of days before his rent was due, which because of ESA stopping his benefit, he was short for) he suffered a huge heart attack, and died a few days later in hospital. A week and a half or so ago, I received a letter from ESA telling me that my father was going through the appeal process and asking if I wanted the process to continue.

I wrote back to the explaining what was wrong with him, and telling them how ridiculous that it was that he was declared fit for work, as there is no way on Gods earth that he was. I asked for the appeal process to continue. This morning, I got a letter through from ESA stating that they are standing by the original decision, even after taking the ‘points I raised’, and his paperwork has now been sent off to an independent tribunal who will look at the decision again.

I really feel that ESA have failed my father. (I do believe that they are partly responsible for his death with the stress they caused him) I don’t know who I am supposed to complain to, to make my voice heard. I need to do something to make my complaint heard. To try and get this system changed to help others. Watching Channel 4 news, there is a family who have just gone through the exact same thing and it needs to stop.”  http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/11/01/atos-benefits-bullies-killed-my-sick-dad-says-devastated-kieran-mcardle-13/ and the reply to his letter from Ian Duncan Smith 24 11 2012 http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/tory-hatchet-man-iain-duncan-1453863 13 13 2012*

Chris Cann  22.10.12, A triple amputee who was wrongly declared fit for work died after being deemed ‘fit for work’ despite being an amputee.  http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Shelton-benefits-blunder-victim-Chris-Cann-dies/story-17574922-detail/story.html

George Scollen – died 31.1. 2013.  On the final day for the Remploy workers one of them, Mr George Scollen, who’d worked there for 40 years, since he was 18, couldn’t face going in and tragically took his own life.  http://indygalonindependence.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/mr-george-scollen-rip.html

Stephanie Bottrill – died 4.5.2013. Stephanie was 53, from Solihull in the West Midlands, she died in the early hours of 4 May after walking onto the M6 and being hit by a lorry, near her home. She left a suicide note which blamed the government for its heartless bedroom tax.

Her family said she had been worried about how she would afford an extra £20 a week as a result of changes to her housing benefit. For people on benefits, £20 can be the difference between starving or being warm in winter.

Iain Duncan Smith has “blood on his hands” says the son of Bedroom Tax suicide victim Stephanie Bottrill – after it emerged she was exempt.

And there were calls last night on the Work and Pensions Secretary to ­apologise personally to her family.

Steven Bottrill, 28, spoke out after it emerged his mum was never liable for the cruel tax in the first place.

A loophole in DWP rules meant Stephanie should not have lost any of her housing benefit because she was exempt under 1996 regulations.

Van driver Steven told the Sunday People exclusively: “The stress was too much for her.

“My mum lived in that house for 18 years and now we find out she didn’t have to pay Bedroom Tax.

“It’s unforgivable”.
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-suicide-victim-stephanie-3013324

David Clapson   David was a poorly diabetic ex-soldier, died starving and destitute because he was penalised by the Job Centre for missing a meeting.

David had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped, meaning he couldn’t afford food or electricity. He was penniless, starving and alone.

His electricity card was out of credit, meaning the fridge where he should have kept his diabetes insulin chilled was not working.

Three weeks after his benefits were stopped he died from diabetic ketoacidosis – caused by not taking his insulin.

David’s story is awful beyond measure. He had worked for 29 years, including five in the Army and 16 with British Telecom, and been a carer for several years for his sick mother.

When he died he had just £3.44 to his name, six tea bags, a tin of soup and an out-of-date can of sardines. A coroner also found he had no food in his stomach.
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/killed-benefits-cuts-starving-soldier-3923771

Added March 2016

Chae Bennett  aged 21, committed suicide on April 15 this year in woodland near his family home takes his own life, because he was let down by a system already underfunded http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-0b49-Mum-ordered-to-pay-back-dead-sons-benefits#.Vtnm9-aBQ4o

Added February 2016

Paul Donnachie who suffered from “severe” mental health issues, had been declared fit to work after he failed to attend a work capability assessment in June was found dead at his home after an error saw his payments stop and he owed more than £3,000 in unpaid rent. Upon realising their mistake, the council sent Mr Donnachie a letter telling him his benefits would be reinstated. But by the time it arrived it was too late – it was found unopened in his flat along with his body. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/murdered-tories-mentally-ill-man-7348866

Added January 2016

Peter Anthony Limacher, who suffered from anxiety and depression as well as substance misuse, had low mood and anxiety, and worries about debt, after he had also lost his disability living allowance. He was described as a “kind hearted and loyal person”, died on May 14 when he was found hanging in his home. North Wales Pioneer News Nov 11 /15

Frances McCormack, aged 53, had been badgered for Bedroom Tax after the death of her 16 year old son Jack Allen in 2013, the coroner heard. A mother threatened with eviction from the house where her son took his own life was found hanged in the same spot, an inquest heard. A handwritten note written 10 days previously was found in her bedroom, part of which was addressed to David Cameron on the hardship the Bedroom Tax was causing. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/grieving-mum-found-hanged-near-7223683#ICID=sharebar_twitter

Added December 2015

Stephen Smith Aged 50 He had a history of anxiety and took his own life after changes to his benefits left him unable to cope. http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/leiston_man_50_died_after_being_unable_to_cope_with_changes_to_benefits_1_4345054

November 2015

Angela Smith, Her father has stated that her suicide was triggered by fit-for-work tests. In early September Angela took her own life – just as she had told doctors she was going to do

Added in October 2015

Luke Alexander Loy, Aged 42. He had schizophrenia and was found fit for work, then sanctioned by the (DWP) for failing to attend meetings at Jobcentre Plus and not actively looking for work, and fell further and further into debt. He died 29th May 2015

Added September 2015

Ruby Urbacz age 59 She was found dead at her home on the 6th September 2015 as a result of a heart attack. Her benefits were stopped without any investigation as she missed her jsa appointment whilst in hospital, after her discharge she had received no money for five consecutive weeks of the £50 per week she would have normally received she was also paying £20 per week in bedroom tax. On only £30 per week She could not afford to feed herself properly as bills were her main priority,http://linkis.com/LQ7gp

Sheila Holt aged 48 “She had been in a coma following a heart attack she suffered at a psychiatric unit. She hadn’t worked for 27 years. She was admitted to the unit after being pushed into the Government’s Work Programme – terrified that her benefits would be cut. While Sheila lay unconscious in hospital, she was sent letters from Seetec, the private company providing the Work Programme” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ros-wynne-jones-sheila-hounded-death-5353202

Michael Brendan O’SULLIVAN aged 60: “He was on anti-depressants and having therapy sessions, he met a benefits advisor for an hour and a half to beg for his payments to continue. He was forced to search for work for six months before hanging himself.” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/landmark-verdict-declares-lovely-quiet-6487928

How many more disabled people will die frightened that their benefits will be taken away?

Iain Duncan Smiths’ deplorable bully’s response to Owen Jones raising concerns regarding the Work Capability Assessment related deaths on  Question Time. 

It’s a call for an  immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association.

Consultation between the Departments of Health & Education to improve support into work for sick & disabled people, and an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits.

An Independent, Committee-Based Inquiry into Welfare Reform, covering but not limited to: (1) Care home admission rises, daycare centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, universal mental health treatments, Remploy closures; (2) DWP media links, the ATOS contract, IT implementation of Universal Credit; (3) Human rights abuses against disabled people, excess claimant deaths & the disregard of medical evidence in decision making by ATOS, DWP & the Tribunal Service.

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Thanks to Robert Livingstone

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47 thoughts on “Remembering the Victims of the Government’s Welfare “Reforms”

    1. Hi Rick,

      Yes I would like to be involved in the WOW petition, I have promoted it and posted around FB and on Twitter. I will put the link on the blog, too – thanks for prompting me 🙂

      Twitter : Revolution Breeze @suejone02063672

      Like

  1. The Elephant in the room is that a government run “NATIONAL INSURANCE” scheme in which people pay nearly 13% of their income in is acting in bad faith and pretending that people have not paid their premiums aided by other people who think they have lived in America for the last 60 years. People in this country have paid their insurance and now they are being cheated along with a lot of offensive rhetoric

    Over my life time of work with my contributions, taxes at 40% and of course employer contributions I must have put in an investment of over 150K and now I am told that this is you paying for my benefits when sick or unemployed takes the biscuit

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, James. The idea that welfare is a “handout” is ludicrous. It isn’t the Government’s money to steal and redistribute to the wealthy. It is ours, paid in by us, and for us. They are getting away with murder, as well as theft. It MUST stop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was really tough going putting this together, not least because one of those on the list was a friend, and fellow campaigner. Every single person we have lost is of equal worth, and each of those losses marks what kind of Government we have, and what kind of society, too, for allowing this to continue, by turning a blind eye.

      This can happen to anyone, too, because illness or an accidents don’t discriminate, and can leave the most robust of us dependent on the State for support – that we have already paid for via taxes and NI contributions. This Government have no right to take that provision: it’s ours, not theirs.

      Murder by stealth is still murder.

      We must continue to fight this atrocity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I no longer live in the EU UK my husband and I retired to France on our State Pension & Health Cover of 70% paid for over 96 years both.
        Reading this today has shocked me beyond words I am truly appalled by the Tory Government because of our circumstances and all EU UK citizens living abroad .

        Each and everyone of these poor deprived people have lost their lives by Greedy evil indulgent beings with no care for human life they have by despicable means killed these people.
        All cases are desperately sad , I cannot get out of my mind the young couple who committed suicide. found in bed dead together, because of no money !, no heating !, no food.! destitute ! no hope !!

        The Torys and May should hang their heads in shame , these deaths are on their uncaring dirty hands.
        RIP and God Bless to all these poor sad people left bereft by the Government supposed to protect them and keep them safe. .
        So upset ,Angry and appalled . Linda Daniels .

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for this, even though it’s very upsetting. I suffer from mental health problems, and am really worried about what is going to happen to me, I used to work hard, and was a carer, I’ve done the Atos form, have some support, some days I’m reasonably ok, and other days my state of mind is very bad, it varies but I fear this won’t be taken into account, I want to do voluntary work but am worried again about how I will be effected by a work programme and endless assessments.

    Like

  4. Well written and to the point. Why hasn’t someone brought charges of corporate manslaughter against this governments leaders – they certainly didn’t waste time with P&O Ferries when The Herald of Free Enterprise capsized, did they?
    I will gladly share this, it needs to be visible to all.

    Like

  5. A very well written article. Many thousands of people put their hope in the Tories being defeated in a General Election. Now their is a spiritual air of despair enveloping the whole country. The election was rigged. Google it. God help us all. Especially the sick and disabled whom Jesus came for.

    Like

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