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Natalie Leal writes in her blog that almost half of the 49 people whose deaths were investigated by a secret DWP peer review were in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – meaning they had an illness or disability.
They formed by far the largest contingent – 22 of the 49. Of the others, eight were claiming JSA, one was claiming Pension Credit and the other five were not on any benefit. This indicates that they had been refused benefit or it had been cancelled.
That covers 36 of the deceased; information on the remaining 13 did not reveal which benefit they had been claiming.
The DWP had previously admitted one in five of the 49 people who died had had their benefits sanctioned at some stage, and that 40 of the 49 peer reviews were carried out following the suicide or apparent suicide of a benefit claimant.
Even if all nine of the non-suicides were among the ESA claimants – and this would be extremely unlikely – more than half of the ESA claimants involved in the study had committed suicide. At a rate of one in five, any number up to 10 of them may have been sanctioned.
Yet the DWP is still claiming, “It is irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim.”
That is what the Department stated when it appealed against the ruling that it should honour This Writer’s FoI request for the number of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claimants who died between November 2011 and May 2014.
The conclusion of this blog is that it would be irresponsible not to suggest such a link.
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