Yesterday (Wednesday), This Writer learned two new things about the new university study that has found 590 people committed suicide between 2010-13 after taking work capability assessments (actually, one was a reminder of something I’d forgotten):
The study found that, for every 10,000 people undergoing a work capability assessment for sickness or disability benefits in those years, 7,020 were prescribed anti-depressant drugs afterwards, 2,700 reported to their GPs with mental health issues, and six committed suicide.
The reminder came from a Vox Political commenter and was that the DWP already knew there had been a huge increase in the number of benefit claimants with mental health disorders.
According to the Express, of all places: “In 2010 just 221,000 with mental disorders were in receipt of out of work benefits. But official statistics show the figure leapt to 861,000 last year  – a rise of 289 per cent.
“Those with conditions like bipolar disorder, severe depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia now account for 46 per cent of those paid Employment and Support Allowance.”
So the increase of 279,000 people with mental health problems, added to the 221,000 who were on benefit in 2010, gives us half a million people – easily within the 861,000 total for ESA alone.
So figures that were published by the DWP itself totally support the new study.
The second new thing was that the Conservative Government doesn’t seem to want to talk about it.
Debbie Abrahams, shadow minister for the disabled, tried to ask an urgent question about the new study in the House of Commons on Tuesday (November 17) but was refused permission. So she made a point of order, asking the Speaker, John Bercow, how she could get the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to make an early statement on the subject.
Again, she was rebuffed – Bercow told her to table a written question and “if she remains unhappy with the answers—or, as she sees it, the lack of answers—she can try again to deploy the mechanism of an urgent question”.
There might be a justification for not answering if the study had only revealed the extent of mental illnesses, which was known.
But there is the matter of the 590 suicides. Is the work capability assessment driving people to their deaths?
People killing themselves as a direct result of the work capability assessment – as the study indicates – is a serious issue, especially for a government that is still – increasingly desperately – clinging to claims that it is not possible to show that the WCA causes people to die, in any way.
And nobody at the DWP wants to talk about it.
Thomas More once stated: “The maxim is ‘Qui tacet consentit’: the maxim of the law is ‘Silence gives consent’. If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented.”
Let’s have that question again: Is the work capability assessment driving people to their deaths?
The DWP is silent.
Silence gives consent.
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