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A campaign to ban benefit assessment interviews has been launched after a 65-year-old man with diabetes collapsed and died after being found ‘fit for work’.
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has called on the DWP to halt assessments for Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance after the man died while waiting for an interview to discuss his future benefit options.
Discussing the death, This Site stated: “He would have been old enough to retire if the Conservatives had not decided to raise the retirement age for both men and women in an attempt to save a few pennies.”
I wrote: “Yes, he was obviously ill. But that doesn’t mean a thing to a Tory government… They call it a ‘positive benefit outcome’.”
Others compared the tragedy to a similar scene in left-wing film-maker Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake.
Now Mr Loach himself has spoken in favour of DPAC’s campaign.
Unconsciously paraphrasing my words, he said (according to the Morning Star): “What has happened really was disgraceful. The man was only 65 — he only had a few more months to go and he would have been retired anyway.
“Such is the brutality of it, but it’s clear that the Tories have no intention of changing their harsh system.”
And he said: “We have to vote them out — we may as well start with Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of this misery, who is as callous as he is sanctimonious.”
That is already well in hand – as you can read here.
Demanding an end to PIP and ESA assessments, DPAC activist Jennifer Jones raised the relevant point – that a man has died in a manner that could have been prevented.
It happened because a benefit assessor “lied about his fitness levels and abilities and he wasn’t given the support that his individual needs deserved”.
She’s right – and it makes a nonsense of repeated attempts by the DWP to claim that it does provide support tailored to the needs of each benefit claimant.
So far – in this case – the DWP’s only comment has been a message of sympathy to the deceased man’s family and friends.
DPAC – and Mr Loach – have demanded an end to benefit assessment interviews, for the obvious reason that they have now been proven to do more harm than good.
But there is no way the DWP – run as it is by a Conservative government – will take such action willingly.
Labour has promised to overhaul the benefit system completely, though.
The only way to be sure this does not happen in the future is to elect a Labour government.
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