Has anybody noticed how planned cuts to PIP eligibility target people at risk of suicide?

Last Updated: February 28, 2017By

Disabled people of all kinds – not just those at risk of suicide – have spent years protesting about cuts to benefits and services [Image: Alamy Stock Photo].

This Writer had an interesting message from my friends on the Atos Miracles Facebook page yesterday.

It said: “I wonder if anyone else has twigged that the latest groups to be targeted for PIP cuts are also those targeted in changes to the way regulations 29 and 35 are implemented in ESA; and targeted further in the coming, oh I just can’t wait for it, work and health programme reforms.”

ESA regulations 29 and 35 concern whether decisions to find someone fit for work or able to carry out work-related activity would cause a substantial risk of harm to an ESA claimant – for example, putting them at risk of committing suicide.

This guidance used to state that anyone whose mental health would be at risk if they were denied benefits or told to engage in work-related activity, specifically anyone who is at risk of suicide or self-harm, should be placed in the support group of ESA.

As the number of ESA-related deaths skyrocketed due to the Conservative-led government’s homicidal treatment of benefit claimants, use of these rules increased, in an attempt to defend claimants against work capability assessors who seemed hell-bent on sending them to early graves. They were the basis of more than half of all support group benefit awards in 2015.

So the Conservative government changed the regulations.

Now they say assessors should consider the benefits of employment weighed against any potential risks, adding that “there is good evidence that people in work have better health outcomes and are at lower risk of suicide”.

And there are no longer any “definitive” criteria that would normally trigger Regulation 35 and lead to a Support Group benefit award – such as if a mental health professional had assessed the claimant as highly vulnerable to relapse and self-harm.

It’s a load of old cobblers, of course. But that didn’t stop assessors using it to fuel a 12 per cent increase in the number of claimants found fit for work between December 2015 and March 2016. Oh, and the government is once again refusing to publish numbers of sickness/disability claimant deaths.

The DWP at first tried to deny that any changes had taken place, saying there had been no change in policy because the law had not changed, which is true – the changes were in guidance issued to staff on how to interpret the regulations behind the law.

Then, after the number of ‘fit for work’ verdicts increased hugely, the DWP tried to claim it was because a backlog of new claims was falling, meaning those who were fit for work were leaving after an assessment saying so, rather than going back to work of their own accord beforehand.

Does anybody really believe that?

(Thanks to this website for source information.)

Okay, now fast-forward to the current controversy over changes to the regulations governing who receives the Personal Independence Payment. Here’s the Daily Mirror‘s take on who will be affected:

Two tribunal judgements said the government should hand more cash to 165,000 people in certain situations.

The DWP has laid down emergency laws to stop those tribunals taking effect, because the new payments would cost £3.7bn by 2022.

While drawing up the laws, the DWP put together an “equality analysis” showing the most likely conditions it would affect.

Obviously, just because a condition is on the list, it doesn’t mean everyone with that condition is being denied cash or that those affected are losing ALL their benefits – each case is different.

But it does mean the DWP’s experts have estimated that at least some of the 165,000 people affected are likely to have that condition.

Here are the “conditions most likely to be affected”, according to the DWP:

•Mood disorders – Other / type not known
•Psychotic disorders – Other / type not known
•Schizoaffective disorder
•Phobia – Social Panic disorder
•Learning disability – Other / type not known
•Generalized anxiety disorder
•Alcohol misuse
•Anxiety and depressive disorders – mixed
•Anxiety disorders – Other / type not known
•Bipolar affective disorder (Hypomania / Mania)
•Cognitive disorder due to stroke
•Cognitive disorders – Other / type not known
•Depressive disorder
•Drug misuse
•Stress reaction disorders – Other / type not known
•Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
•Phobia – Specific Personality disorder
•Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

•Diabetes mellitus (category unknown)
•Diabetes mellitus Type 1 (insulin dependent)
•Diabetes mellitus Type 2 (non-insulin dependent)
•Diabetic neuropathy
•Diabetic retinopathy
•Disturbances of consciousness – Nonepileptic – Other / type not known
•Drop attacks
•Generalised seizures (with status epilepticus in last 12 months)
•Generalised seizures (without status epilepticus in last 12 months)
•Non epileptic Attack disorder (pseudoseizures)
•Partial seizures (with status epilepticus in last 12 months)
•Partial seizures (without status epilepticus in last 12 months)
•Seizures – unclassified Dizziness – cause not specified
•Stokes Adams attacks (cardiovascular syncope)
•Syncope – Other / type not known

Source: Here are some conditions that don’t make you “really disabled” according to Theresa May’s policy chief

Would you like me to pick up a few obvious candidates who may be at risk of suicide and/or self-harm – or can you see them clearly enough yourself?

I mentioned in an earlier article that George Freeman, the MP who had said PIP should be directed to people with the most serious conditions, rather than people sitting at home popping pills for anxiety, should make a full and frank apology for his comment. In fact I had tweeted that opinion to him.

It seems others have done the same, and were far better at making the appropriate points than This Writer. Such as:





If you’re on Twitter, feel free to express your opinion about Mr Freeman’s words. He’s @Freeman_George – but feel free to pass your comments on to your own MP and the various party leaders/spokespeople, who will be delighted to receive your views – even if Mr Freeman isn’t.

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  1. Alec Middleton February 28, 2017 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    With the introduction of the steel helmet in WW1, there was a spike in military hospital admissions with head injuries. Using this governments logic, perhaps the generals should have withdrawn all the costly steel hats to save money on treating head wounds.Looking once at the statistics, you might say the steel helmet was dangerous because it caused an increase in head injuries. Look twice and you see the helmets did their job and left the soldiers alive enough to get to a hospital.

    “there is good evidence that people in work have better health outcomes and are at lower risk of suicide”.
    That is because the vast majority of people in work are not ill, suicidal or disabled. Obvious to me.

  2. jbw31 February 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Few in work are ill, suicidal or disabled because those who are and unable to work don’t have a job either through not being able to or people won’t employ them. That seems logical to me. And yes I had noticed that the government targets the mentally vulnerable and those more likely to commit suicide given the push, but it’s also working to put other groups into despair so that they too begin to think of only one way out, don’t you think?

  3. casalealex February 28, 2017 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    The Tories just don’t care, and they don’t even care that we know they don’t care!

  4. hugosmum70 March 1, 2017 at 2:10 am - Reply

    so people with dementia can work? my dad had Alzheimer’s. i would have loved to have seen someone make him work. haha. there was enough confusion and mayhem at times just at their home. with police being involved to go find him when he went AWOL locking my step mum in their bungalow. she had to phone one or more of us relatives to go get her out and go look for him as well. among other issues landed up in a home with other in similar states.
    absolutely ridiculous list. exactly what do you have to have to get benefits then? doesnt seem to be much left

  5. Tracy Carruthers March 1, 2017 at 9:29 am - Reply

    I have mental health disorders and on pip. i cant function in a job. i know that. i feel suicidal a lot. i would not be able to do it

    • Mike Sivier March 14, 2017 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      What would you not be able to do?
      Please say you would not be able to commit suicide.
      The best thing is to keep fighting – get in touch with a support group like DPAC, Black Triangle, 4UP, Fightback or the like. This won’t last forever.

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