This poster, from 2012, accused former Work Capability Assessment contractor Atos of driving people to suicide and death. Increasing amounts of scientific evidence are agreeing with the claim – but the DWP and the government are refusing to act on them. Where’s the justice in that?

In the midst of the furore over PIP assessments, This Writer was deeply saddened to receive the following from the commenter who goes by the pen-name ‘DiabolicalMe’:

Last week – my beautiful friend in her 40s, with severe diabetic complications, died suddenly on Thurs, probably heart attack. Her last email to me a week prior to her death said how she was going seriously loopy with worry, losing her mind, over the outcome of her PIP assessment she’d had a few weeks’ ago.

This is the way with sickness and disability benefit assessments. Everybody working for the Department for Work and Pensions knows that people claiming these benefits rely on them to sustain their way of life, and that the potential loss of benefit means the possibility of poverty, destitution, homelessness, and even death. So they do all they can to make claimants fear the worst. That makes it more likely their own health condition will kill them off, before a penny of benefit money is paid out.

Correlation? Oh yeah, DWP would say no concrete PROOF of causation, therefore they can’t possibly be linked. I’ve been howling with despair at the loss of my friend, as well as the fact she went to her grave worrying about losing her lifeline benefits which paid for her daily carers and cabs to go anywhere as she couldn’t walk or drive.

She’d texted me after the assessment to say it was a gruelling 2 hours’ long. She had so many seriously disabling diabetic complications, why the hell was she ever put through a face to face assessment in her last few weeks of life? And she’d spent the Xmas period filling out her form. What a sad sad last few weeks of life, in addition to all the pain, suffering and incapacity in every area of her life.

Yes indeed – form-filling: The ultimate pointless exercise in a DWP assessment. None of the medical evidence provided on claim forms is taken into account – that’s right, none of it. An independent IT expert examined the system a while ago and found that it was just shunted to one side and was not given any weight in the final assessment. But the form must be filled out in a very specific way, otherwise the DWP will not consider it. This is why a number of groups have been formed to help people through the process, from the very start.

(My GP also spent Xmas filling out a PIP form for her severely autistic daughter who cannot communicate verbally at all. DWP said they’d still need to visit the daughter in person despite her inability to communicate..?? Presumably they don’t believe her severe needs for support – she’s in supported accommodation etc – nor her GP mother!)

Correct. The DWP’s default position is that everybody’s claim is suspicious, even though almost 99 per cent of all claims – far more than the number that are ever approved – are legitimate and deserve to be honoured. Evidence from doctors is discounted, as already mentioned above – and evidence from a doctor who is also a relative would be doubly disbelieved.

One is reminded of the satirical sketch in which a DWP assessor is determined to find a job for a benefit claimant, despite the fact that the only thing the claimant is capable of doing is staring sideways.

Within hours of reading DiabolicalMe’s message, I received the following YouTube clip from Paula Peters, who has been a dedicated, steadfast and much more vocal campaigner for the rights of people with long-term sicknesses and disabilities than This Writer. It is taken from the demonstration that stopped traffic in London last week. Be warned: Some of the language is extremely strong

But the message hits home still harder:

The question at the heart of her speech is a good one: Exactly what does it take to get the people of the United Kingdom off their fat backsides and out in protest against “grave and systematic violations of the rights of disabled people”, as the United Nations have described it…

Or “disabled genocide”, as The Last Leg more accurately nailed the decisions of the Conservative Government.

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