More DWP cruelty – asking the terminally ill when they expect to be dead


The callousness of Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions hit a new low this week when it was revealed that officials have been asking terminally ill benefit claimants when they expect to die – including those who don’t know death is inevitable.

Frank Field, the new chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, started his tenure incisively when he demanded an explanation from the Gentleman Ranker.

He said he had seen evidence of two such cases in his own constituency and added “I dread to think how often this is happening around the country.”

The DWP’s response – not Duncan Smith’s; he’s nowhere in sight – has been to deny everything (of course): “Claims from people with a terminal illness are fast-tracked using ‘special rules’, where we pay the highest rate of care immediately without a face-to-face assessment.

“All claims are dealt with fairly, sensitively and compassionately by specially trained staff – they do not ask specifics around life expectancy.”

It just doesn’t ring true, does it?

Here’s the background information, courtesy of The Guardian: Individuals claiming for a personal independence payment (PIP) under the “special rules terminally ill” procedure submit DS 1500 forms signed by their doctor – forms that need to be signed if the patient is regarded as suffering from a terminal illness.

“The DS 1500 asks for factual information and does not require the doctor to give a prognosis. It should contain details of the diagnosis, including whether the patient is aware of their condition and, if unaware, the name and address of the patient’s representative.

“It should also set out the current and proposed treatment, and brief details of clinical findings. A doctor is expected to believe that the patient is likely to die within six months, but once the form is submitted the Department for Work and Pensions decision-makers are not expected to challenge a patient about the expected date of death, or question a patient who is not aware the doctor has declared their illness to be terminal.

“The claimant, once found by the doctor to be terminally ill, is not supposed to meet any qualifying period for a claim”, and should get the highest rate of payment.

Clearly, if the DWP is questioning people in the date they expect to be dead, this may include those who have not been told they are going to die.

“In one case my constituent’s mother was asked by when she expected her daughter to die and in front of her daughter,” said Mr Field.

“This has left my constituents feeling understandably very upset. They tell me they are appalled by the hardness of the questioning and its intrusiveness.”

He has demanded a copy of the guidance that could have led PIP assessors to think this line of questioning was legitimate.

This Writer thinks he may be in for a long wait.

Is this yet another example of the DWP’s secret ‘chequebook euthanasia’ policy – asking questions that ‘nudge’ claimants towards death in order to clear them off the books sooner and make an early benefit saving?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


32 thoughts on “More DWP cruelty – asking the terminally ill when they expect to be dead

  1. Neilth

    Really the callousness of the DWP has sunk to a previously unimaginable low. If this proves to be true then those responsible at management level or above should be summarily sacked for a direct breach of both DWP guidelines and basic humanity. This is the direct responsibility of those at senior management levels and above whose job it is to ensure that their staff stick to guidelines. If junior staff are breaching those guidelines then the managers should have been aware of this and taken action to remedy the situation. Their failure to do this is a fundamental failure in their management indicating that they are incompetent at that level. They can’t do their job and should go. The poor management at all levels is one of the reasons public services are struggling. They are paid enormous salaries and for doing a poor job.
    This is endemic now in the UK in both public and private sectors where senior managers (especially in say the finance sector) are paid huge bonuses for basically doing their jobs.
    It’s time to stop these free handouts to the undeservingly average and regulate bonuses so they are only paid to those whose work is outstanding.
    Where companies do extraordinarily well as a group then bonuses should be shared equally across the workforce as all, from the guy who sweeps the floor to the MD, have contributed to that success.
    Poor managers such as those in DWP and their government management should be made answerable for their performance and if they can’t manage their people then they should go.
    On the other hand if they are good at their jobs and asking claimants when they expect to die is now policy then those policy makers should be sacked forthwith and named and shamed for their inhumanity.

  2. Brian Lovett

    That’s a bit ironic coming from Frank Field. He started this thing the first place. Does he ever reflect on this I wonder? Thinking the unthinkable is one thing, expressing it publicly is dangerous…

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Whatever he did in the past, would you prefer him not to raise this issue, so the DWP can continue this disgusting behaviour?

      1. Brian Lovett

        I just wonder if he can now reverse what he started. My daughter, dead at 36 was mercilessly pursued by these DWP rectums for the three years leading to her death.

  3. Nigel Harman

    Once again we see the caring face of the DWP and peekaboo Smith at work. These people have no shame, don’t have a clue about the grief, heartache and turmoil they cause. The few that do are too frightened to do anything about it.I hope the United Nations get off their hinny and act over these human rights violations. This country is a signatory of the above act but I can’t see that happening we just have to suffer at their hands.

  4. Joanna

    I’m going to sound callous now, but how can a terminally ill person Not know that death is inevitable? As for asking people, the information should be in the proof from the person’s doctor and shouldn’t even be brought up.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It does happen. Unless you find yourself in the situation of having to decide whether a person should be told, I’m not sure anything I say here will convince you. I am aware of at least one occasion in my family where a person with a terminal illness was not told.

    2. Neilth

      Joanna, how exactly would you tell a young child or perhaps a person with learning difficulties? There are many reasons and circumstances when it would be wrong to say explicitly “you’re going to die in six months”.
      Some people would prefer not to know (my mother for one).

  5. David Woods

    I think MP’s are getting brave, knowingly putting so many mentally unstable people on the streets, people who know IDS and his ilk are fully responsible for their dire straights!
    Expect an increase in Police numbers shortly to combat the increase in ‘civil unrest’ (no doubt caused by ISIS). Maybe they’ll call them something ‘snappy’ like Special Patrol Group!
    Anyone else remember Maggie’s ‘strong arm of the law’, who after breaking the unions, were turned on to ‘undesirables’ like the traveller community, anyone else remember their finale of the ‘Battle of the Bean Field’ where a sleeping community suddenly found themselves under attack, a number of pets were killed, men, women and children beaten, some dragged out of there homes by their hair, and arrested!

  6. Susan Pike

    This is totally disgusting, how can they get away with doing it, surely there is something that can be done to stop these evil people

    1. FibbingIsARationalResponse

      Unfortunately the inmates are in control of the madhouse.
      I think the only thing that can be done is for the ordinary people of Britain to stand up against it. Join a political party working against it in some way, start a blog, talk to friends, just make whatever noise you can, even if you only make a whisper 30 million or so of us (just to take a number at random) can in time convert that to a shout.
      I hope.

  7. sally

    It’s a tone of casual cruelty I observe more and more, a sort of cavalier insult hurled by politicians, civil servants and more increasingly the public.
    In this case, it’s very blatant; the subtext is that the person on the receiving end has no value, doesn’t matter, is expendable, surplus to requirement. Completely degrading and demoralising.

    It is a form of hate crime.

    That government departments deny that such insults are directed at claimants, or make bland PR statements that say the exact opposite when confronted with evidence that it is occurring, it is modelling behaviour that the public interprets as acceptable.

    None of it is acceptable; has no place in a society where I choose to live.

    I see and hear it everywhere I go. Bullies on the bus, comments from taxi drivers about people who won’t get out and work, dropped innuendos directed at customers in shops or the JC, and in the comments sections in newspapers.

    But more and more of us are speaking out against it when it occurs, confronting and calling to task those who think that such abuse is acceptable; we won’t be complicit in normalising hate directed at claimants.

  8. Michael Broadhurst

    these people want deporting to some island in the middle of nowhere and left to rot,they deserve each other and IDS wants stringing up by his bollocks.

  9. Thomas

    Will they end up forcibly euthanizing disabled people given the chance? Off topic, it’s my 37th birthday today.

  10. NMac

    Perhaps we can ask Duncan-Smith when he expects to be dead. Some would say, the sooner the better.

      1. Tony Dean

        In my opinion as well. He has put more disabled people into coffins than he has into work.

  11. Neilth

    Given the suggestion that this Tory regime resembles House Lannister from Game of Thrones in its lies, lack of compassion and lack of conscience may I suggest that IDS is auditioning for the role of Ramsay Bolton as he seems to be a perfect fit.

  12. Neilth

    Re the announcement of a”living wage”.

    How is setting a living wage rate at £9 in five years time something to celebrate?
    The living wage in London now is higher than £9 (£9.30 I think) so £9 in 2015 represents nothing like a living wage.
    It’s quite right that the taxpayer shouldn’t be subsidising underpaying employers. If you can’t afford to pay your employees a fair wage (at least a living wage) you haven’t got a business, you’ve got a failing money pit and as an employer you’re surviving on welfare.
    Employers should be forced to pay the living wage now. The clue is in the name.
    With inflation etc the Tory £9 actually represents a cut in income for poorer working families coupled with a the removal of benefits and tax credits, the £20000 cap the attack on rent support this budget is a huge assault on the poorer and younger members of society.
    But hey they’re the ones who don’t vote so they obviously don’t care and they certainly don’t matter.
    (And before the literal amongst you out there jump down my throat the final comment is hyperbole).

  13. Pete Powellplease

    Why doesn’t anybody do anything about it apart from whinging on their Facebook pages and sites where everybody agrees anyway? Why don’t they write on The web sites of pages who spread the Conservative Party propaganda?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      In the case of this blog, where it is shared is up to readers. I write the articles and share them to places where I know (or hope) they’ll be picked up, but most sharing is done by readers, according to their own preferences.
      Where do you share Vox Political articles?

  14. Chris

    The Department of Work and Pensions are indeed hoping we pop our clogs before having to pay us anything.

    The rise in retirement age had nothing to do with equality.

    If it had, then men would have gained equal ‘reward’ by gaining the state pension pay out at 60 same as women.

    And equality was also never anything to do with the raised retirement age, because men’s state pension pay out age has risen as well.

    The government is back to chasing the average death age as the year when state pension is paid out, so that the money is not paid out.

    The state pension began at the turn of the 20th century age age 70, when most working class men were dead.

    It reduced to 65 from 1926 for men, which was also an average death age.

    The ever rising retirement age today is chasing the death age of 80 and above.

    And whilst in this process, the flat rate pension either reduces or totally wipes out any state pension in life, especially to women, to as many people as possible as new pensioners.

    See who loses under the flat rate pension, that wil never be single tier
    and different for each new pensioners forever.

Comments are closed.