The excellent Disability News Service is reporting that a coroner has ordered Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride to take action that will prevent flaws in the Universal Credit system leading to further deaths after a disabled man became overwhelmed by the application process and committed suicide.
Instead, it seems Stride is determined to increase the death toll exponentially.
Here’s the DNS story:
A coroner has warned work and pensions secretary Mel Stride he needs to act to prevent flaws in the universal credit system leading to further deaths, following the suicide of a disabled man who became overwhelmed by the application process. https://t.co/0ozphO4dV2
— Disability News Service (@johnpringdns) November 17, 2023
An inquest into the death of Kevin Gale earlier this month heard from his psychiatrist, who expressed significant concerns about the way mental health service-users were supported with their universal credit claims within DWP.
The inquest also heard from the trust’s nursing director, who told the coroner that they considered the issues identified by the psychiatrist to be “national” and said they were “debilitating for service users”.
Kevin Gale, who is believed to have worked previously as a window cleaner, took his own life on 4 March 2022.
Coroner Kirsty Gomersal sent a Prevention of Future Deaths report to Stride.
She pointed to the “number of and length” of the universal credit forms that had to be completed which “can be overwhelming for someone with a mental health illness”, and which are “perpetuated if the applicant cannot get help to complete the paperwork”, while also highlighting the “long telephone queues to speak to a DWP advisor”.
She added: “Having to travel long distances for appointments can be detrimental for those with a mental health illness.”
And what’s happening to the benefit system?
Here’s The Independent:
Jeremy Hunt has warned those who “coast” on benefits will lose handouts if they refuse to take a job as part of a new crackdown.
Claimants deemed fit to work, but who fail to take steps to find employment, will be cut off from accessing benefits such as free prescriptions and dental treatment, help from energy suppliers and cheaper mobile phone packages.
Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, said that schemes to help people back into the workforce would also be expanded as part of a new £2.5bn five-year long back-to-work plan.
Under the plan, claimants will be forced to accept a job or undertake work experience to improve their prospects. Those who fail to do so will be hit with an “immediate sanction”.
At the moment, claimants can face open-ended sanctions where they have their benefits stopped. Those under this sanction for more than six months will now have their claims closed, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said, which would also end their access to other benefits such as free prescriptions and legal aid.
Mr Stride said: “…We are expanding the voluntary support for people with health conditions and disabilities, including our flagship Universal Support programme.
“But our message is clear: if you are fit, if you refuse to work, if you are taking taxpayers for a ride – we will take your benefits away.”
Overall, the government says expanded help-to-work schemes will help more than 1 million people over the next five years.
Part of this package includes plans to add another 100,000 people to the Individual Placement and Support scheme, which aims to get those with severe mental illness quickly into paid employment.
Mandatory work trials will be rolled out, meaning that claimants will be forced to accept a job or do work experience to improve their prospects, and those who fail to do so will be hit with “immediate sanction”.
Reform of the “fit note” system will also be explored under the plans. In a trial in certain, fit notes, an alternative to sick notes which set out what work someone can do, will be handed out by the benefits system, not doctors.
So, after receiving an order from the courts to make it easier for people with severe mental health problems to claim disability benefits, Stride and Hunt have chosen to make it many orders of magnitude harder.
And we can all see them:
So let me get this straight, Jeremy Hunt is threatening to take medication away from unemployed people who are already finding it difficult to find work most likely due to the health issues they need medication for?
Yep, makes perfect sense. If you’re an emotionless simpleton.
— Jonathan Pie (@JonathanPieNews) November 17, 2023
I can't work and get disability benefit, take 26 drugs to keep me alive, if they try and force me to work which they have done in the past they will basically kill me, brain tumour,rheumatoid arthritis, COPD,leaking heart valves,chance I am going blind etc https://t.co/7xenzHz5ua
— Lord Victor Meldrew of The East Ridings (@TheMeldrew) November 17, 2023
So despite previously being declared unfit for work, long-term sick and disabled people will be forced into jobs that are unfit for them and if they don’t (or can’t) look for work, they will lose access to medication and the help to heat their homes.
— Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) November 18, 2023
Disabled people are 'living in fear' and talk of more cuts is 'terrifying'~ Once again, the Government is trialling brutal disability cuts – this time, as a way of paying for vote-winning tax cuts in 2024, but the vulnerable will suffer badly https://t.co/9cY4y3Ecbh
— Black Triangle (@blacktriangle1) November 17, 2023
The last of the ‘X’ posts above makes an extremely good point.
If these changes are being made in order to allow the government to make tax cuts in advance of a general election, then the Tories will once again be pushing the most vulnerable people in society to their deaths, to make already-comfortable people a little better-off.
Are you disabled or suffering from a long-term sickness? Do you want to die to boost the bank account of someone who is already wealthy?
Are you a Tory voter? Do you have sick or disabled relatives and/or friends?
Which of them do you want to see die, so you get a tax cut that will induce you to vote Tory again?
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