“The Tories don’t actually kill the sick and disabled directly. Instead, they deprive their victims of the money they need to live – so they either starve to death, die of their condition, or take their own lives.”
I wrote those words yesterday – and today, we see the truth in them.
The DWP’s cruelty to Sandra Burns – subjecting her to repeated assessments, rigging the result so she failed them, and then forcing her to undergo the added stress of challenging the decisions – pushed her beyond her body’s ability to cope.
And she died.
Responsibility for that death lies with the Conservative government.
The Tories deny it, of course. They say the reasons for the death of any benefit claimant are complex.
But this woman – and so many others before her – would be alive today if not for the campaign of harassment they waged against her.
That is the only element in her life that can be said to have contributed to the worsening of her condition.
But it is an indirect way of killing. It cannot be said that anybody in the government deliberately decided to kill Ms Burns – so nobody can be accused of committing a crime.
The logical accusation – corporate manslaughter – has never been levelled against the Tories in a serious way.
Why not? Probably because none of the victims – or their families – had the money to take it to court.
That’s the corruption at the heart of the UK today.
A disabled woman died from a “massive heart attack” after she was repeatedly refused vital financial support following assessments carried out by a private benefits firm, it has been reported.
Sandra Burns, from Luton, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs at her home on April 16, surrounded by letters from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and over-due utility bills, having suffered what is believed to be a huge heart attack.
Brother Ian told Luton Today: “She was found dead at the foot of her stairs, apparently of a massive heart attack.
“She was surrounded by letters informing her that the gas, electricity, water, telephone and television were all in danger of being cut off.”
“This debt and anxiety lay all around her on the floor”, he said.
The 57-year-old, who had worked in retail for 30 years before severe back pain caused by five fused vertebrae in her spine forced her to give up working, had failed a number of benefit assessments over a five year period but successfully challenged each decision on appeal.
The disability assessments were carried out by private firm Atos, on behalf of the DWP, who withdrew from a contract to carry out assessments for Employment and Support Allowance following a string of failures and mounting criticism.
Each time she failed an assessment, Ms Burns found herself looking at a mountain of debts while she battled to have the harsh decisions over-turned.
Her Brother said the difficulties of living with a chronic health condition, coupled with having to repeatedly fight for the benefits she desperately needed, caused her health to deteriorate.
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