Inquiry to be launched into ex-soldier’s death after JSA stopped

The late David Clapson [Image: change.org petition site].

The late David Clapson [Image: change.org petition site].

MPs are set to hold an inquiry into benefit sanctions after 200,000 people signed a petition in the wake of an ex-soldier’s death.

More than 211,000 people signed a Change.org petition started by Gill Thompson calling for an inquiry into benefit sanctions after diabetic David Clapson, 59, was found dead in his home.

Gill’s three-month campaign called for an independent inquiry into benefit sanctions – which refers to occasions that money is withheld from claimants if they fail to meet the terms agreed.

The Work and Pensions cross-party select committee has now agreed and its inquiry into benefit sanctions is due to start early next year. It is expected to be completed shortly before the General Election in May.

David, from Stevenage – who worked for 29 years, had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped and died three weeks later. When his body was found by a friend, his electricity card was out of credit, meaning the fridge where he kept the insulin he used to treat his diabetes was not working.

He died from diabetic ketoacidosis three weeks after his benefits were stopped, caused by not taking insulin. A coroner found that when David died there was no food in his stomach.

Gill, 57, from London, has welcomed the decision to hold an inquiry. She said: “I’m still getting my head around the announcement. It’s still so overwhelming. When I started the petition I didn’t know what would happen.

“It wasn’t just for David. Nothing can replace him but the one thing I thought I could do was to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“I’m not normally a campaigner and David wasn’t someone who liked a fuss, but sometimes in life there are certain things you have to do – and starting this petition was one of them.

“I am so glad I did it now. I hope, through this investigation, lessons will be learnt. People turn to the state when they are in need – that is what the system is for – a safety net for hard working people like my brother when they need a bit of support.”

Debbie Abrahams, MP for East Oldham and Saddleworth, has been calling on the DWP select committee, of which she is a member, to hold an inquiry into “inappropriate use” of benefit sanctions since November last year.

She said: “Gill has shown great courage in the wake of her brother’s appalling death to take on this cruel government and its inhuman policy of targeting vulnerable people who are reliant on social security.

“The huge response to Gill’s Change.org petition with more than 200,000 signatures is proof that the British public will not stand by and do nothing when they see vulnerable people suffering.”

“The government has done everything it can to avoid having this inquiry. There is increasing evidence of the negative effects of social security sanctions on some of the most vulnerable in society, which shows that their so-called welfare reforms don’t work. This is a government that doesn’t give a damn about ordinary people.

“Latest figures show that there are now more people in working families who are living in poverty than in workless and retired families combined.”

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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21 thoughts on “Inquiry to be launched into ex-soldier’s death after JSA stopped

  1. joanna may

    I know this is going to maybe sound horrible, but this comes from someone who has never known any family, but couldn’t his sister have helped with refrigerating his insulin? I could understand if they lived miles apart, that would have made it nigh on impossible. I do have sympathy though and I have signed this petition, please forgive my insensitivity but I still do not understand about families and how they work.

    1. John Winn

      What we are fighting for is that people who are on benefits are on the very bottom of society and the government departments who should look after them are not doing so. I had to pay out as a loan a considerable sum of money to cover the rent of a friend whose payments were stopped for nearly three months because “they” had mislaid a form and then debated among themselves if they could pay him. He almost lost his flat and would have had great trouble getting somewhere else. That is our argument.

  2. Stephen Tamblin

    Yes I agree with every thing you say now I am on the sick for the first time in my life I have been working for 40 plus years .I have been diagnosed with vascular dementia and depression and angsity attacks I got made redundant from work every thing went down hill .I think that this government are so disgusting risk his life fight for this government I wouldn’t fight for this country the government don’t give a dam about the poor and vulnerable people. The Ritch get richer and the poor get poorer and it is right this government don’t give a dam

  3. Tony Dean

    Mike can I ask where you found out about this enquiry. There is nothing on the Work and Pensions Committee website, that I can see, and I usually get an email from them about anything like that.

  4. Michelle Thomasson

    This and similar stories makes me feel sickened. Recently, in a local Cooperative travel shop there were adverts for holidays and one to donate to the Food Bank, how many realities can extreme wealth for the few create?!

  5. casalealex

    Cruel, arbitrary and ridiculous reasons why people have their benefits stopped

    You miss your job centre appointment as it clashes with your work programme interview. You get sanctioned.
    You volunteer in a youth club. The job centre thinks this is ‘paid work’ so you are sanctioned.
    You don’t apply for an IT job as it requires skills you don’t have. You get sanctioned.
    You miss a second appointment because you are ill. Sanctioned.
    You miss a second appointment because you are ill. Sanctioned.
    You are sanctioned for leaving an inappropriate A4e-run Launchpad course as you plan to continue your gardening diploma and volunteering. You ask to appeal the decision and are given the wrong forms.
    You get a job interview but it’s on the day of your nan’s funeral. You attended three interviews the day before. You try to rearrange this one, but company reports you for failing to accept a job. Sanctioned.
    You apply for more jobs than required by your jobseeker’s agreement, but forget to state on the form that you checked the local paper (which you’ve been instructed to do by a jobseeker’s direction). You’re sanctioned.
    You are a mum of two, and are five minutes late for your job centre appointment. You show the advisor the clock on your phone, which is running late. You are sanctioned for a month.
    You are on a workfare placement and your job centre appointment comes round. The job centre tells you to sign on then go to your placement – which you do. The placement reports you for being late and you get sanctioned for 3 months.
    an on, and on, and on……..

  6. Mr.Angry

    I am delighted about the inquiry but WHY next year ? It needs to be heard now, this week before others pass away under this wretched government. Where are the UN on this they also are taking their time on this murderous regime.

  7. victedy

    I have NEVER shared anything on social media as much as I did this petition! I was so sickened at this particular atrocity, especially as Mr Clapson wasn’t the Tory-stereotypical-benefit-claimant he was a former soldier that had worked for 29-yrs when he came out of the army.

  8. Susan Mitton (@suemitton1)

    Well done to Gill for persevering with the campaign. It’s good news that there will be an investigation into sanctions but why wait until the new year? As ghost whistler said, ‘too little, too late’. Nick talks about the ‘hundreds of other tragic deaths’. If there was only one death that would be a tragedy. What do you call hundreds or even thousands of deaths, the ‘apocalypse of the Tory party 2010-2015’? GE2015 cannot come soon enough for the hundreds of thousands of people who have been so deeply affected by the ‘measures’ put into place by this lying, cruel and insane government. My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering. I will continue to support all petitions and encourage others to do the same. The petition has led to the investigation. This is proof that ‘together’ we can make a difference, can bring about change and hopefully save someones life in the process!

  9. Lynn Dye

    Cheers Mike, this inquiry is great news, though hardly before time. Congratulations to Gill for instigating this campaign.
    I agree with Mr. Angry’s sentiments above. Unfortunately, our inhuman government appears to have won a reprieve from the UN investigations, as they didn’t want all this coming out before the general election! I am beyond being Mrs. Angrier still.
    http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2014/08/uk-government-wins-reprieve-from-un-disability-committee/

  10. Chris

    An inquiry is not independent if done by the government, but only by the judiciary, that is by law independent from political life.

    What you will find is that as laws stand now, the right held in law of institutionalised homicide means no conviction likely for corporate manslaughter by government, any department acting as agent of government or any individual head of the DWP / Jobcentres.

    But I do disagree with the last sentence of the article
    “Latest figures show that there are now more people in working families who are living in poverty than in workless and retired families combined.”

    Reitred single and families are within the poverty that grows each day more.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      If you disagree with the statistics, perhaps you should take that up with the organisation that provided them.

Comments are closed.