DWP blamed by second coroner for incapacity benefit claimant suicide

The late Julia Kelly

The late Julia Kelly

So you thought Mary Hassall was the only British coroner to have blamed a benefit claimant’s death on the DWP? Think again.

To This Writer’s shame, the case of Julia Kelly was reported in This Blog, earlier this year – but I did not recall that Northamptonshire County Coroner Anne Pember’s report had conferred responsibility for her death on the Department for Work and Pensions after the case of Michael O’Sullivan was reported last month.

Mr O’Sullivan committed suicide in late 2013. North London coroner Mary Hassall, at his inquest early the following year, recorded that his death occurred as a direct result of being declared “fit for work” in a DWP work capability assessment, made in response to his claim for Employment and Support Allowance.

Julia Kelly took her life in November 2014. At her inquest in March this year, according to the Northampton Chronicle, “Coroner Anne Pember, recording her verdict of suicide, said she also believed that the ‘upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life’.”

Ms Kelly had been forced to give up work in 2010 due to pain caused by a car crash (which was not her fault) five years previously. In 2013, she was involved in a second crash and had to undergo a six-hour operation on her spine as a result.

Together with her father, David Kelly, she formed a charity – Away With Pain – to help fellow sufferers of chronic back pain.

But then the Department for Work and Pensions told her she had to repay £4,000 in Employment and Support Allowance payments, saying she had failed to declare capital funds.

It seems the government department was referring to money held by the charity, rather than funds owned by Ms Kelly herself.

Ms Kelly, who had fought for every penny of her benefit at three tribunal hearings, was bombarded with a series of repayment demands. According to her father, it was this relentless stream of brown-envelope letters that pushed her to suicide.

He told Channel 4 News about it. Take a look at the report:

A few months later, the DWP started stridently claiming that no causal link had been shown between claims for incapacity benefits and the suicide of claimants, in response to demands from almost 250,000 petitioners – and more than 90 MPs including the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn – to publish the number of claimants who have died on benefits.

We all know the DWP was lying, thanks to Ms Hassall’s report on Michael O’Sullivan.

The facts about Julia Kelly mean we must now question the magnitude of the lie.

We know the DWP examined the cases of around 60 people who committed suicide after their benefits were withdrawn or reduced – that fact was most recently mentioned in Prime Minister’s Questions, in the House of Commons on Wednesday (October 21) – but the Department has refused to publish its findings.

All Cameron would offer was that he would “look … at” the question asked about publication. He can look at it all day without doing anything about it, of course.

Meanwhile, serious questions are arising as we learn more about these deaths and the extent of the DWP cover-up.

How many people have died due to the reduction or withdrawal of incapacity benefits?

How many of these deaths happened long enough after their benefits were withdrawn that the DWP never bother to record them – on the grounds that it was none of the Department’s business (this is what happened with Mr O’Sullivan)?

How many more coroners’ verdicts have implicated the DWP in the deaths, but have been quietly swept under the carpet?

And – as the United Nations investigates possible grave and systematic violations of incapacity benefit claimants’ human rights – what can be done to secure the release of the facts?

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  1. Dez October 23, 2015 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Tip of the iceberg….corruption is alive and well at the DWP truth department. May all those that support these lies and coverups be aware they will be judged on their actions ….even if it is in the after life.

  2. Sarah Davis October 23, 2015 at 11:21 am - Reply

    The lies the dwp tell are not limited to this subject either. Most people who have had to go for a medical assessment (including myself) say that the report, which almost always concludes that your ESA has been stopped as you’ve been judged “fit to work”, is actually full of lies and omissions. I’ve seen hundreds of cases like this and once they’ve stopped your money you either sign on as “fit for work” which many can’t actually do, or go without money for months until they sort out your appeal. Trying to force you into agreeing with their decision which is based on lies. This can cause immeasurable damage as all other benefits (Housing and Council Tax benefits also get stopped and can take weeks to be reinstated leaving people in fear of losing their homes. These lies must stop and they should be made accountable for their mistakes and the suffering they cause

  3. Kevin Scardifield October 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    I would could be blamed on an accident 2 indicates a pattern and manslaughter charges should be investigated

  4. NMac October 23, 2015 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    As Dez says. I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  5. AndyH October 23, 2015 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    I hope more and more coroners speak out.

  6. mrmarcpc October 23, 2015 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    My heart goes out to their families and hope that they found the peace in death that they were denied and robbed of in life, they won’t be the only victims, there will be more but they will all be swept under the carpet, like they tried to do on last night’s Question Time!

  7. Nick October 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    The DWP mike are above the law and any death in their eyes is just bad luck ?

  8. mili68 October 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Tweeted @melissacade68

  9. rab sonart October 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    investment would have provided jobs for many people who find life and social interaction very difficult and need a backbone society to be there when you cannot cope.. it doesn’t last forever when you go under if you are supported but there has been no support.. unless of course you are an immigrant or a foreign student..
    it’s a case of go starve somewhere else.. (Palmeston)

  10. jane colpus October 23, 2015 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    how many people have been driven to despair and ended their own lives because of money pressures ? I know I have considered the option. we are not supposed to suffer so because of ‘their’ system

  11. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) October 23, 2015 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    We must apply pressure on Judge Peter Thornton, Chief Coroner of England and Wales, who insists that he is unable to take any action or issue any advice because “coroners are independent and the decision to issue a PFD report is for them, depending on evidence they hear”.

    But information on the chief coroner’s own web page makes it clear that his duties include providing “support, leadership and guidance for coroners in England and Wales”, and overseeing the implementation of the new provisions of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

    Among those new provisions is schedule five, paragraph seven, which describes coroners’ duties to complete PFD reports.

  12. Paul Rogets October 23, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    I work for CA and dealing with people every week, who was going through same issues with DWP They are so stressed because of losing benefits and believe cut in benefit does result in suicides

  13. Helen October 23, 2015 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Why do the TV news programs not broadcast these deaths? Is it because they are controlled by the Government? Surely not all of them are? Social networking is brilliant but at least some of the news programs must run these stories for the people who do not use social networking. Many people I’ve spoken to are not aware of the deaths due to DWPs policies! They have only heard the propaganda against people on benefits. There must be as way of turning this propaganda around so the public support sick and disabled on benefit.

    There must be people out there who would change their views from supporting the Conservatives to not supporting them if they knew what is realy going on.

  14. Florence October 24, 2015 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    If the MSM were actually reporting what is happening in this & other areas of our lives, they would have one of their weekly “packages” on Top Trending On-line Petitions or similar. Not difficult, nice cheap content. How about it, BBC, Sky, RT?

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