Disabled man died of heart attack after being told of ESA sanction threat

The accusations against DWP are coming thick and fast now. Here’s the latest, courtesy of Disability News Service:

 A disabled man died of a heart attack, just an hour after being told that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was threatening to stop paying his out-of-work disability benefits.

Alan McArdle, who had previously been homeless but was living in council accommodation in Slough with the support of a charity, told the friend who had read the DWP letter to him: “They’ve sanctioned my money,” before he collapsed.

The government contractor responsible for finding him work, the discredited outsourcing giant Maximus, had reported him to DWP for failing to attend appointments intended to move him towards work, as part of the Work Programme, despite being told about his severe ill-health.

Slough’s Labour MP, Fiona Mactaggart, accused DWP of being responsible for her constituent’s death, and told Disability News Service she would raise his case in the House of Commons.

The mitigating words from DWP and Maximus manage to be both pathetic and infuriating at the same time. The DWP spokesperson came out with the current excuse:

“It’s misleading to link a death to someone’s benefit claim.”

Readers of This Blog will know that this replaced the previous excuse, “It is irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim”, after it became plain not only that it is possible to suggest such a link but also that it would be irresponsible not to point it out.

The Maximus line was:

“Participation in the Work Programme is mandatory for people in the WRAG who are in receipt of ESA. We make strenuous efforts to inform participants about their obligations and contact them if they fail to show up for arranged meetings.”

The reason Mr McArdle had been sanctioned was for failing to keep in contact with Maximus. His mobility had become so poor that the organisation had allowed him to do this by phone – this fact alone is enough to raise questions regarding why he was not allowed to join the support group of ESA, where he would not be required to attend meetings and in which he obviously belonged.

He had suffered injuries after a fall that required him to be admitted to hospital, meaning he had been unable to contact Maximus as usual. When Mandy McGuire, project manager of the charity Slough Homeless Our Concern (SHOC), who had supported McArdle for 16 years, had told Maximus the situation, she said the company’s reply had been a little different:

“He hasn’t come in, so we will get him sanctioned.”

This is a clear example of DWP persecution leading to a claimant’s death. How obvious does it have to be?

He died from the shock of being told his benefits had been cut off while he was in hospital, for crying out loud. He didn’t belong in the work-related activity group at all; his health was so poor, he should not have been subjected to its pressures.

Maximus, the company monitoring his performance on the Work Programme, is also the company responsible for carrying out work capability assessments. It seems clear that Mr McArdle’s assessor was very badly mistaken about his condition.

He was wrongly assessed, put in the wrong group of ESA, and wrongly sanctioned – but both the DWP and Maximus are, incredibly, trying to say it isn’t their fault.

They must be held to account.
Source: Disabled man died of heart attack after being told of ESA sanction threat

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  1. gfranklinpercival November 14, 2015 at 3:56 am - Reply

    The assessor also must be identified and reported to the disciplinary committee of his or her registration body. These little people must not be allowed to plead that they were only following orders.

    The rot set in with ALMOs, many years ago, There is much re-education to be done. All are accountable to us, and must be made so to be.

  2. Jarrow November 14, 2015 at 10:28 am - Reply

    I suggest a letter should be written to disability campaigner Sue Marsh at Maximus.

  3. Mr.Angry November 14, 2015 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Completely lost for words another poor soul murdered by our government, how many more thousands will suffer under these murderous regimes.

    Is there any organization that can step in to halt this genocide, the UN says it will report next year, that’s a year to late for many.

  4. shaun November 14, 2015 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Found fit to work?:
    Health so poor he was allowed to phone in as he could not get to meetings;
    missed appointment as he was in hospital after he had fallen over; and
    died within one hour of being told he was sanctioned.
    This is a rotten system implemented by a government that is stupid, ignorant and vindictive; by a department that has lost sight of its purpose – namely, to administer the payment of benefits that people are legally entitled to (some of whom will have paid 10,000s of pounds in contributions over many years) and then double administered by private companies who’s soul aim is to maximize profit/shareholder value. The only question a sane person would ask is how many more people have died?.

  5. Lewis A Maclennan November 14, 2015 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    There are organisations that should be stepping in. They’re called the Police abd the Crown Prosecution Service

    • Phil Lee November 15, 2015 at 4:10 am - Reply

      Indeed, and as crimes against humanity are covered by plenty of offences in this country, why are we having to wait for a UN investigation?
      The cabinet and their supporters need to be arrested NOW.
      If the relevant authorities fail us in this, they risk being tried in the same dock.

  6. amnesiaclinic November 14, 2015 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Letter sent to my MP asking that there is a thorough review into this and sanctions halted until a thorough review is carried out.
    Shocking, tragic and totally unnecessary.
    Atos was removed by disabled people demonstrating outside their offices.
    The same could apply to Maximus although I realise it is winter and it is a huge sacrifice of energy and time to do this but it worked!
    Lightning demos by deciding at the last minute where they will take place so they arn’t expected.
    Very, very effective.

  7. mrmarcpc November 20, 2015 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Nothing will come of this, report whoever it is to their superiors and it’ll get chucked in the bin, bet IDS wet himself when he heard about this tragic story, him and his smug, stupid, bitch sidekick!

  8. mili68 November 25, 2015 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Tweeted @melissacade68

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