Freedom of Information requests by the Disability News Service revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has investigated decisions made about welfare payments following the deaths of 60 people since 2012 – the first time the DWP has tacitly admitted there could be a link.
However, campaigners believe the number of deaths could be far higher, claiming the changes to benefit rules have amounted to “passive euthanasia”.
A public meeting in Witney in Oxfordshire on Thursday (November 27, 2014) will hear from the sisters of two men who died after their benefits were cut, Mark Wood, 44 and David Clapson, 59. Mr Wood, who had a number of mental health problems, was found starved to death last year after his benefits were reduced to £40 a week because he was deemed fit for work. A government review later found that this decision had been a mistake.
The Prime Minister has said his death was “tragic” and pledged to “help find the answers to make sure that lessons are learnt”. However, Mr Wood’s sister Cathie Wood, 49, said she felt that members of the Government believed “these people aren’t worth having around”.
“They must, in their secret hearts, think that,” she said. “It worked; he died. They say they want to protect the very vulnerable, and they are killing the very vulnerable. I think it is a really huge, hidden scandal and there are going to be more people who die this winter.”
“I feel [benefit] sanctions are cruel and harsh on the weak and vulnerable, which my brother had become through no fault of his own,” [David Clapson’s] sister Gill Thompson said. “My brother didn’t create [a fuss], he just walked away … he wasn’t one for a scene. My brother has gone, there is nothing can be done to bring him back. All I want now is lessons to be learnt and no one else to die, and his passing not to be without meaning.”
Read more on The Independent‘s website.
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