How many deaths have Tory evidence-free policies caused?

Here comes the reaper: Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Here comes the reaper: Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Yesterday’s Guardian article by Zoe Williams about evidence-free government is strangely muted about the main headline-grabber: The fact that she is writing about policies that kill.

“Recently, Dame Anne Begg had some questions for the employment minister, Esther McVey, on the Welfare Reform Act of 2012,” the article states.

“She wanted to know about cuts to benefits, having carefully gathered evidence from charities and food banks in advance. ‘Minimum JSA [jobseeker’s allowance] sanction,’ she began, ‘went from two weeks to four weeks and the maximum went from six months to three years. These are quite sizeable lengths of time, so what evidence did you have on the likely impact on claimants that these extended sanction periods would have?’

“Were there any reasonable grounds that could be shared with any reasonable person to think this policy would be effective – any attempt to visualise how it would look?… There were not. There was a lot of faffing, and some broad and extraneous evidence about sanctions in general. ‘I take it from your failure to answer the question that you did not do any research,’ the chair finally concluded, having grilled McVey and the DWP’s Chris Hayes for long enough.”

This is a policy that kills people. We only have to look at the recent record of Ashton-under-Lyne Job Centre to realise that. Remember the man whose Jobseekers Allowance was sanctioned just before Christmas? “Without warm clothes and very little food he fell asleep on the streets and never woke up. He died of hypothermia.”

Jobcentre staff reportedly said they were “only following orders” – the ‘Nuremberg defence’ used by guards in Nazi extermination camps.

Dame Anne Begg knew about this because Yr Obdt Srvt had written to inform her.

Then – again, just before Christmas – another claimant at Ashton-under-Lyne died. This one was driven to suicide after being sanctioned, and was found hanged.

That’s two, within two weeks – claiming at just one Jobcentre. Working on the law of averages, that gives us 52 deaths per Jobcentre per year, and with 800 Jobcentres in the country our average number of deaths per year would be 41,600.

Both of these claimants had mental health problems but had been dumped off incapacity benefits and onto JSA. Clearly they had failed their Work Capability Assessments – but then, we all know that these are phony tests based on a long-ago-debunked assessment system.

Again, there was no evidence to show the WCA was a valid assessment procedure. Blame for its use falls at Labour’s door (it was introduced in 2008, under a Labour government) – although it should be recognised that Labour soon realised its mistake and would have changed the system if the Conservative-led Coalition had not sidled into office in 2010.

The Tories introduced changes that made the assessment much harder, and it is from the introduction of those changes that the Employment and Support Allowance deaths really started to pile up (the article referenced suggests 73 deaths a week, but the total number was in fact more than 220 – deaths from the support group were included after it was pointed out that random reassessment of people in this group created stress that could easily lead to death).

Right: 220 deaths per week is 11,440 per year. Add that to the 41,600 we already have and our rolling total is 53,040 deaths per year – and remember this is only an extremely rough average to demonstrate the possible extent of the problem. The ESA death figure is from 2011 and may have increased hugely since then – we don’t know because the DWP is hiding the figures from us.

To cut a long story short, we could be looking at as many as 100,000 deaths and more, in the benefit system alone. This carnage, driven by Coalition Government policy, would be the largest genocide of the British people by their government in history, beating even the Harrowing of the North in 1070.

Samuel Miller, who has spent more years researching the fatal effects of evidenceless DWP policy than this writer, had this to say about it yesterday: “There exist only a few studies on the effectiveness of sanctions in social welfare systems, yet that did not deter the DWP from implementing one of the harshest sanctions regimes of all OECD countries.

“Moreover, the Department failed to conduct a ‘real world’ impact assessment of the effect of extended sanctions on claimants. So when the minimum JSA sanction went from two weeks to four weeks and the maximum went from six months to three years, people died as a result.”

Last week, Iain Duncan Smith was campaigning for a Tory government to be elected in 2015. In the face of all the misery and death for which he should be held directly accountable, this creature squelched out of his lair and tried to convince you that he has saved the country £50 billion – because the number of benefit claimants is falling. Even this was a lie.

The Tory insistence on evidenceless policy means that, if a Conservative government is elected in May, the deaths will continue. Every one of the thousands who have died already was some mother’s son or daughter, somebody’s brother, niece, cousin; somebody’s friend or relative.

Maybe somebody close to you will be targeted after May – how would you feel about that?

Maybe it will be you. By then, it will be too late to do anything about it.

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37 thoughts on “How many deaths have Tory evidence-free policies caused?

  1. joanna may

    This might be simplistic Mike but if what Fester Mcvile says is right, that 99% are actively looking for work, then why the hell is this government punishing them like they are children? Come to that is punishing a child, by starving it, right? If so, my mother was nice to me!

  2. kengore'

    if the tory scum kill us off it will be more money for the top 1% of the rich to have it for themselves

  3. Nick

    your’ll just going round in circles mike these people IDS and co know full well that many deaths of the sick and disabled have taken place and will continue to do so in the future

    the bottom line is the public don’t care about these deaths and IDS knows that so can carry on with a complete disregard as the public don’t care

    how to get the public to show an interest is the answer but that will never happen i’m afraid

    as to why is anyones guess and i myself haven’t a clue society has moved on and become very selfish hence anything of decency labour talks about falls on deaf ears

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Is Nick right?
      Do you care about these deaths or not?
      If you do, what are you doing to show it?
      If you aren’t doing anything, then you don’t – right?

      1. A-brightfuture

        I do feel Nick right, it breaks my heart to admit that, but he is right.
        Unless people are in the situation where one is living on the breadline via welfare, then they have no idea.

        People who have a few bob in their pocket, plenty of food on the table, a warm bed, great job and no threat of a lifeline taken away or taken away, it does not affect them. They live in another world. (not all of them) some with money AND humanity are fighting the cause.
        It only matters when it affects or touches you in some way.

        We only see through the media mass abuse in other corrupt countries.
        Not the UK.
        IDS and Co are being allowed to get away with mass abuse of human rights.
        We cannot call it anything else.

        We cannot say that murder is being played out, because it is not, no one has been physically assaulted to the point of death by the doings of the DWP.
        Ever seen the film “Gaslight”

        Its being done in the most covert way possible.
        Mental torture, and cognitive confusion, where…
        Right is wrong and
        Wrong is right.

        Its being done so that….

        The blame lays with the claimant/victim, because they could not cope with the regime of what was done/asked of them.
        IDS knows he cannot be held responsible of how another conducts their life.

        That’s why he is getting away with it.

        Looking back at history, abusers do get what they deserve, whether they put a gun to their own head. Or someone does it for them.

      2. joanna may

        I totally disagree with Nick!! I have gone through starvation Twice as a child and it was excruciatingly painful!!
        I am on benefits but because I am lucky enough to be in the support group, every month I donate £10 to the Trussel Trust online and I help people when I can.
        Is Nick judging others by his own standards? Just because some people don’t do anything, it is because they can’t, not that they don’t care, they have probably been too beaten down by this evil system!!!

        Mike here is something I have found which you might find interesting?

      3. Liz

        People do care, but a large portion of the population still don’t know what is going on, and the reason for that is the press, not one national newspaper has published a word about all these deaths, it can only be surmised that this government controls the press, there is not one newspaper boss with the balls to put these atrocities into print. This is why the government and ids are literally getting away with murder.

    2. Bookmanwales

      Unfortunately I think Nick is right, society has moved on and people no longer care about others.
      Channel 4 and 5 (and occasionally the BBC) have done such a good hatchet job on the benefits system that all are deemed scroungers and layabouts. So what if a few die, they would probably have died anyway and at least they are no longer a burden to the decent taxpaying people of this fine country.

      As for those who care doing something ? what can they do.. we write our MP’s, complain to tv channels about bias, and even try to get the UN involved and still an enormous silence ensues.

      Even those media outlets one expects to be more biased towards the plight of those sanctioned or otherwise deprived benefits remain strangely silent.

      All the facts and figures are available to journalists willing to root them out but it seems journalism too has moved on from fact finding to press release publishing, journalists (if one can still call them that) just print the same old stories and DWP stock replies.

      Sanctions don’t kill, people only die if they don’t do enough to find a job.

  4. Florence

    The class with the unspoken creed of Social Darwinism stole the election, and have implemented the unspoken policy. But this doesn’t explain the silence from almost all quarters on the carnage. I’m immensely sad for each and every death, and stinking angry that it the UK government and the Civil Service that have enacted this. What to do though? What to do?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Perhaps Samuel Miller will provide us with an update when he sees this. I know he is very actively working to raise awareness.

      1. joanna may

        I still come across people who don’t even know what ESA is or who Atos is, I was recently asked to do a project on the welfare system today, and in it I came up with small solution, I’m not sure whether or not it would be viable though, I wasn’t blessed with a good brain.

  5. jeffrey davies

    now we now that by the summer of 41 70,000 disabled sick mentaly ill those who couldnt work were killed fast forward its arounf that figure no you bet i wonder whot those 99percent who aint rich say about their culling the stock jeff3

  6. Cheryl Essenhigh

    This is what they want, its all in the bible mike. The elite think they own the planet they are roths child etc the cule started years ago in africa with the aid which my i add dose nt exist its the only way these people can down size the population so that they get richer. well Fallen Angels Demonds what ever you want to call then we are in the last days and the god of gods is amoung us. Dont know what you all bileve but i know what i know i have my ark and i know where i will be and i can asure you it wont be with the demonds

  7. Lynda Pace Avery

    The problem here in Powys is that my neighbours believe the ConDem propaganda, one even complained the light hearted thread about how common is your name was Labour propaganda. I refer people to food banks, yet they are branded scroungers even thougj in rural Wales THERE ARE NO JOBS.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Send me some details, Lynda. You can do it in a comment; if you mark it CONFIDENTIAL I won’t put it on the site. I’d be very interested to know where these ConDem dupes are, and maybe in visiting them for a chat.

  8. oneofthepeople55

    Great article although I think the JSA claimant deaths calculation looks a bit wrong to me. We need the DWP figures.

    Also how do you know Labour would’ve dropped the WCA or gone easier on the sanctioning?

    Wrote to a Labour MP in disgust about sanctioning regime a couple of years ago and they were all for it. Still got the letter somewhere.

    They have also failed to speak out on behalf of the innocent UK citizens with non eu family members who are having their families broken up because of the coalitions inhumane immigration rules (See our blog)

    We shouldn’t let Labour off so easily.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I agree we need the DWP figures. Obviously this will be the first place they’ll be published if I ever get to see them.
      Labour has made its position clear on the WCA.
      Regarding sanctions, the problem is that you can’t just let people have benefit indiscriminately, so sanctions come in if you’re not looking for work. Even in the 1980s when I was signing on as a youngster, I had to show I was actually on the job market! Labour has vowed to remove sanction targets, which means Jobcentre staff won’t be scrabbling to find any excuse to remove people from the books any more (in theory).
      You’re right that Labour should not get an easy ride – but then, if Labour forms the next government, that party won’t get one!

      1. joanna may

        having no targets does Not stop sanctions. What there needs to be, is proper rules, not guidelines, but rules that will have safe-guards! Plus extra help like, help with decent and appropriate clothing for interviews. What about the many people with low level learning difficulties without support they would not be able to function, what about those who have had such traumatic lives, that they find functioning in life almost impossible, should they suffer more for the tiny % who chose not to play the game? If something isn’t done, there will be more Mark Woods, then no-one will ever be shocked anymore! Basic food and water should be classed as a Human Right!!!

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I agree but you shouldn’t condemn Labour’s plans without actually seeing them in operation first – that’s like accusing someone of a crime before they’ve committed it.

  9. Chris Marchbanks

    being saying this for a long time but will they be put in front of a judge or will they just shut the door and walk away That is till next time

  10. Susan Mitton (@suemitton1)

    Did you see Mike that 900 terminally ill claimants were reassessed for PIP last year. You couldn’t make it up! I think the details can be found @Mylegalforum I just hope and pray that the UN makes good and proper use of all the information that Samuel Miller has sent them!

  11. Irene

    At the end of the day Labour has kept quiet. They are just as culpable. Even job centre Union. Why haven’t they pulled all workers out in protest.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Labour has not kept quiet, but has instead been shouting about this from the rooftops for the past three years and more, since the deaths first started coming to light.
      Your comment is one that appears on this blog with appalling regularity and I’m surprised that people still believe this nonsense.
      For just one example try visiting MPs tell their own Atos horror stories, from January 2013 – two years ago!
      That’s one of many articles showing how MPs have been standing up and shouting about this – on this blog alone. There are many, many other blogs detailing many, many similar events.
      We still get a lot of people like you, claiming Labour hasn’t done anything in defiance of the facts and it is very disturbing that you have been successfully kept in the dark for so long.

  12. joanna may

    Mike isn’t that what the DWP is doing to a lot of people on a daily basis? Turn up a couple of minutes late and face a Savage punishment without a trial! Prisoners are treated better, and they have committed crimes or at least they have had a trial and been found guilty, yet if they were starved there would an uproar on a huge scale!

    I’m sorry I am just so angry, I have not experience justice in my life, and it disgusts me that someone can be punished in such a brutal way, on the whim of a person who might have had a bad day in their own life!

    Please forgive me venting my spleen! Nothing personal!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I thought we had moved on to discussing what Labour is planning, rather than what’s happening now.

      1. joanna may

        Sorry Mike, Labour will always get my vote, but we need to get out of punishing people especially people who are ill, if they can and want to work, then the individual should choose. There should not be any groups in ESA, if someone is ill they need dignity in their life not constant harassment! And there should be much more accountability for the politicians who subject anyone to inhuman treatment.

        If people on JSA do workfare, they should get their normal benefits plus an amount of money that brings it up to the minimum wage, especially if their placement is with a commercial company, and they should automatically receive employee rights.

        This would give each person on benefits the taste of a wage, if they don’t follow the rules then a small amount should be docked, like any other worker. To me this seems fairer I think?

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I agree with pretty much all of that (although I’m not sure about docking wages – do people still do that?)

  13. George Berger

    Will Mr Miller publish his calculations? That will be necessary to satisfy anybody who has some knowledge of statistics and population studies.

  14. Karen Springer

    Can the parliamentary Labour party demand the figures for the numbers who have died as a result of benefit cuts, delays and sanctions?

    Like an earlier commenter on the thread I cannot help but think of Social Darwinism and also of Malthusian Catastrophe when I read of yet another suicide.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Michael Meacher, a very highly-respected former Labour cabinet minister, tabled a Parliamentary question on that very subject, just over a year ago, if I recall correctly. To the best of my knowledge he has not received an answer.

  15. Edwin Stratton-Mackay

    Add to that figure of 100,000 the excess 25,000 deaths of elderly, older and infrim each winter caused by hypothermia, by having to choose between heating versus eating, or other deprivation caused by this lethal austerity ideology. Over five years that is 125,000 excess deaths.

    At least 225,000 people have died because of government policy. Aktion T4 was officially discontinued at 70,000, but secretly continued until about 250,000 had been killed.

    225,000 versus 250,000.

    The Tories will easily beat the Nazis’ horrific score if they are re-elected.

    And this is not a scandal? Nobody is being arrested?

  16. Allan Lowson

    I fear Labour will do no better, look at them toeing the Tory line of lies and fear-mongering prior to the Scottish Independence vote–same paymasters alas. SNP could really change things in an independent Scotland, too bad the rest of Britain can’t/won’t wake up. Little chance of Labour winning the May election given they’ll be lucky to hold on to any of their seats north of the border, and no-one to blame but themselves.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      We’ve all heard a lot about people “toeing the Tory line” but what it comes down to in the end always seems to be sour feelings because Labour is a unionist party and did not support independence – how could it? Most of the lies have been proved true; most of the fear-mongering has been shown to be justified – or in the case of some high-profile matters, the ‘proof’ that it was fear-mongering came from the Coalition government; the same organisation that Yes campaigners said couldn’t be trusted on other matters. It seems there was a lot of cherry-picking going on, in order to present only evidence that was favourable to their argument.
      You say they have the same paymasters; name them.
      There certainly seems to be a lot of buzz about what the SNP could do; sadly there’s very little noise about what it has achieved already or why, exactly, people should be enthusiastic about it. Out of hundreds, possibly thousands of comment posts, I can recall seeing one that enumerated a few SNP achievements. The rest were attacks on Labour (mostly unfounded).
      I really don’t see why anybody should be enthusiastic about the SNP when its entire campaign seems to be about telling Scotland that Labour is bad, based on a lot of lies.

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