It is terrific that this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves, more than two years after Vox Political broke the story.

Perhaps it will lead to a change in the DWP’s culture of “disabled genocide” – although, after it was hammered for the policy on national TV and nobody bothered much, this seems doubtful.

Any improvement is to be welcomed, of course.

But I do wonder how many lives could have been saved if the effort going into this issue today had been applied in December 2014.

One of the outsourcing giants paid to assess disabled people for their eligibility for benefits appears to have admitted that it is standard practice – approved by the government – to ask claimants with mental health conditions why they failed to take their own lives.

A leading clinical psychologist has warned this week that such questioning “brings huge risks” and is one of the reasons behind the increase in suicides associated with the government’s work capability assessment (WCA) process.

The admission from Maximus, which carries out WCAs for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), came after a disabled campaigner produced a recording of his own assessment.

On the recording, shared with Disability News Service (DNS), a Maximus assessor – an occupational therapist – is heard asking Jonathan Hume a series of questions during his WCA, while typing on a keyboard.

She asks him [his replies have not been included]: “Back to some questions that we have to cover…

“Have you ever tried to harm yourself or take your own life or needed to go to hospital?

“Do you have any thoughts around that at the moment, any intentions or plans to hurt yourself currently?

“When you say desires, how often are you having thoughts like that?

“And what is it that stops you from acting on the thoughts that you have?

“Can you think of any reason that you’re not doing that? Is it friends or family support?”

Source: Maximus ‘admits’ using brutal and dangerous suicide questions

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