Tag Archives: safeguarding

New evidence fuels demand for inquest uncovering DWP role in the death of Jodey Whiting

Jodey Whiting, 42, took her own life after her benefits were stopped.

Remember Jodey Whiting?

She’s the woman who took her own life after the Department for Work and Pensions ignored its own policies for safeguarding benefit claimants no fewer than five times while dealing with her case.

The DWP scorned calls for an independent inquiry into deaths related to its decisions, prompted by Ms Whiting’s death – even after tens of thousands of people signed a petition demanding it.

Now her mother, Joy Dove, has launched a demand for a new inquest, saying the interests of justice demand it after new evidence emerged.

This includes the result of an investigation into the handling of Ms Whiting’s benefits by the DWP and a report from an independent consultant psychiatrist who concluded that the DWP’s failings would probably have had a substantial effect on her mental state.

In her letter to the Attorney General, Ms Dove argued that the manner in which her daughter was treated by the DWP, and in particular the withdrawal of her ESA, caused or materially contributed to her death and, that had this not occurred, her daughter’s death might have been prevented.

Ms Whiting, of Stockton, died on 21 February 2017, aged 42. She was a vulnerable woman with multiple physical and mental health illnesses which left her house-bound, requiring 23 tablets per day and entirely reliant on welfare benefits.

In late 2016 the DWP began to reassess her entitlement to Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

She requested a home visit as she rarely left the house due to her health and she made clear that she had “suicidal thoughts a lot of the time and could not cope with work or looking for work”.

Despite this, the DWP decided that she should attend a work capability assessment. She failed to attend so the DWP stopped her fortnightly ESA payments.

With help from her family, Ms Whiting wrote to the DWP explaining the severity of her health conditions and asking for a reconsideration, but this did not happen until after her death.

She also received letters informing her that her housing benefit and council tax benefit would be stopped because they were linked to her ESA.

Just three days after her last ESA payment, Ms Whiting took her own life.

An inquest was held, lasting less than an hour, in which the coroner declined to consider the potential role of the DWP in the death. Ms Whiting’s family were unrepresented and were unaware that they may have been entitled to publicly-funded legal representation.

After the inquest a report by an Independent Case Examiner concluded that the DWP had made multiple significant errors in how it treated Ms Whiting. Some of the failings had not been known to her family, who were horrified to learn how many failings had occurred in the handling of her benefits.

This could be a hugely important case.

Who knows how many other people are now dead who might have lived if the DWP had handled their cases with an ounce of sensitivity?

We may soon find out – but only if the Attorney General grants permission for a new inquest to take place.

Source: Family Of Jodey Whiting Seek Fresh Inquest Into Her Death | Leigh Day

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Suicide: If the Jeremy Kyle show had a duty of care to guests, what about the government’s duty to benefit claimants?

Steve Dymond: His death following an appearance on a TV show is more important to Conservatives than all the many thousands their benefit policies have triggered.

Tory double-standards have hit a new low.

It seems the Conservative government – including its leader – has expressed “deep concern” about the death of a guest on ITV’s Jeremy Kyle Show.

The concern is that the show’s producers did not adequately observe their own duty of care to guest Steve Dymond, who is believed to have taken his own life after being filmed for an edition of the programme.

It seems Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said the death was a “deeply concerning case”.

According to Sky News,

“Broadcasters and production companies have a responsibility for the mental health and well-being of participants and viewers of their programmes,” they said.

“We are clear they must have appropriate levels of support in place.”

Damian Collins, Conservative chairman of the commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, said TV companies

“have a duty to care to the people who take part in their programmes”, while Tory MP Simon Hart, who also sits on the committee, described the Jeremy Kyle Show as “car-crash TV which revels in people’s terrible misfortune and sometimes their vulnerabilities”.

And Charles Walker, vice-chair of the parliamentary group on combating suicide and self-harm, called on ITV to stop commissioning the show

Mr Walker demanded a crackdown on programmes that put people under a “huge amount of pressure and wait until they go pop”.

All of these criticisms are accurate. But I notice Mr Collins mentioned a “duty of care”…

What about the Conservative government’s duty of care to the many thousands of benefit claimants – particularly the sick and disabled – who have committed suicide because of the cruelty of the Tory system?

What about the people named by Debbie Abrahams in her evidence to the debate on 10 years of the work capability assessment?

What about the many others she didn’t mention?

What about the many, many others who weren’t considered to be benefit-related deaths because they did sometime after the arbitrary period following loss of benefit that the Department for Work and Pensions continues monitoring their condition?

The government has rejected a call for an independent inquiry into the deaths of many benefit claimants including Jodey Whiting, who died after the DWP breached its own safeguarding guidelines no less than five times.

The government has tried to hide the fact that concerns had been raised internally about the DWP’s safeguarding failures, rather than address them.

This means its position regarding the Kyle Show death is nothing short of homicidal hypocrisy.

And that has not been lost on the general public:

We’ve been here before, sadly.

The government won’t address its hypocrisy because the government consists of Conservatives and, for them, hypocrisy is a way of life.

The only way to stop the deaths is to end Conservative government and replace it with a responsible socialist administration.

But in the current pandemonium over Brexit, who would consider anything as radical as that?

Source: Jeremy Kyle Show death ‘deeply concerning’, Downing Street says | UK News | Sky News

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DWP says there’s no need to review its safeguarding procedures. The late Stephen Smith might disagree

Remember the Department for Work and Pensions’ rejection of a petition demanding an independent review of its safeguarding procedures, after the death of Jodey Whiting?

The department had ignored its own safeguarding procedures no less than five times before Ms Whiting committed suicide in February 2017.

But the DWP said it had no plans for an inquiry into its treatment of claimants – and destroyed a report on other safeguarding failures – in only 18 London job centres – rather than allow it to become public after a Freedom of Information request was submitted for its release.

Only days after this became public knowledge, we learned that Stephen Smith – the man who was reduced to a state similar to concentration camp victims due to starvation caused by deprivation of benefits – had died.

He had succumbed to pneumonia which he had contracted as a result of DWP sanctions.

Now we find that the DWP had ignored the advice in not just one, but two letters from Mr Smith’s doctors, in its determination to find him fit for work in the fact of the evidence that he was not.

This is what one GP wrote in October 2017, after listing the serious health issues suffered by Mr Smith, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cervical spondylosis, osteoarthritis and the fact he had been fitted with a urinary catheter because of ongoing urinary issues:

“These medical conditions adversely impact upon his mobility and upon the activities used to assess eligibility for ESA and PIP. The nature of these chronic problems is such that they will worsen over time and mean that his mobility and functionality is impaired on a daily basis.

“Mr Smith will be in pain on standing and at the commencement of walking. Whilst on the balance of probability, he would be able to walk 20 metres, in my opinion, he could not mobilise a distance of twenty metres repeatedly without needing to stop due to pain and breathlessness.

“It is my opinion that not only could Mr Smith not walk 20 metres without pain or exhaustion, he coult not do it repeatedly or within a reasonable time period.

“In terms of cooking, his very limited respiratory tolerance, and his difficulties with lifting means that in practical term anything other than straightforward microwave cooking is likely to be beyond his physical capabilities.

“The need to monitor and change his catheter requires medical input and it would therefore be reasonable to describe Mr Smith as requiring assistance with toilet needs.

“The identified restrictions affecting Mr Smith’s mobility and daily living activities have been present for more than three months and, given the nature of his medical complaints, are likely to remain beyond the next nine months.”

Despite this expert advice, the DWP’s pen-pushers decided they knew better and found him fit for work, so in January 2018 another GP wrote to them again, as follows:

“Following a recent Work Capability Assessment this patient, in contradiction of my own knowledge of the patient over time, clinical assesment and medical certification, was found fit for work related activity.

“Because of my patient’s health condition there would be a substantial risk to my patient’s health if he were found not to have limited capability for work related activity.”

(Source: Revealed: Warnings about dying Stephen Smith that were cruelly ignored by the DWP – Liverpool Echo)

There was indeed a substantial risk to Mr Smith’s health. It was called the Department for Work and Pensions, and it led to his eventual death.

It’s a clear case of corporate manslaughter but nobody is facing any recriminations over it at all. The DWP says it is an “operational matter” and refuses to comment on it in any way other than that “lessons will be learned”, or some such blather.

Will any lessons be learned? We may find out the answer sooner than the DWP would like – ironically, from a man with almost the same name as the deceased.

Steve Smith had a stroke 11 years ago which left him paralysed from head to toe down the left side of his body.

The life-threatening condition struck while he was on holiday in Turkey. He also had a brain haemorrhage and spent six weeks in hospital abroad where surgeons had to cut away his skull and operate on his brain.

After flying back to England, he was given a year to recuperate by his employers but after his condition failed to improve he lost his job.

After years in receipt of Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance – and with no sign of improvement in his condition – it seems the DWP has arbitrarily decided he is fit for work and shut down his ESA claim.

You can read about his ordeal here.

Will he be the next victim of a government department that seems free to condemn people at will, and with impunity? And what can be done to get justice for people like Jodey Whiting and Stephen Smith?


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The DWP was responsible for the pneumonia that killed Stephen Smith. Will his survivors support legal action?

DWP cruelty: These are the images of Stephen Smith that shocked the public, when the starvation that caused his pneumonia was first brought to our attention.

Stephen Smith, the man the Conservative government condemned to death by starvation when it denied him the sickness benefit ESA, has passed away.

It has been revealed that Mr Smith died on April 15.

Despite conditions including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, excruciating Osteoarthritis, an enlarged prostate and a need to use a colostomy bag to go to the toilet, the Department for Work and Pensions claimed that he was entirely fit for work and refused his claim for Employment and Support Allowance in 2017.

Terry Craven, a former city council welfare officer who works at the CASA community centre on Hope Street, Birkenhead, advising people on benefit claims, explained what happened on his Facebook page.

He wrote, on Christmas Eve last year: “My client was thrown off ESA by ATOS 18 months ago. Since then, he has been expected to sign on. Obviously, he’s been sanctioned and forced to go hungry. so much so he weighs 6 stone.

“On Friday [December 21], not surprisingly he was at death’s door with pneumonia. Fortunately, I was able to get him into hospital. Evidently, his left lung was full of fluid with his right not much better.

“He has been unable to heat or look after his home properly because his health has deteriorated… He lives in one room of his 3 bedroom house he rents from a private landlord. It is rat infested, he cannot use the toilet nor is he strong enough to put water in a kettle. He relies on bottled water.”

According to the Liverpool Echo, a friend confirmed that “he never recovered from the pneumonia”.

If that is true, then the Department for Work and Pensions is directly responsible for his death.

Mr Smith would not have contracted pneumonia had he received the benefit to which he had always been entitled – as the DWP admitted when he won his appeal to have the department’s decision on his ESA claim reversed.

He had been put on full ESA support, with back-payments to be paid shortly.

Now that he has passed away, it seems unlikely the DWP will hand over any more money. Conservative ministers call that a “positive benefit outcome”.

The DWP has a duty to have proper regard for the safety of benefit claimants – meaning that it should not make any decisions that may put them in danger. Clearly benefit advisors ignored this duty in the case of Stephen Smith – as they did in that of Jodey Whiting and probably many, many more vulnerable people who are now no longer among the living.

The Department destroyed a report on safety failings at Job Centres in London after it received a Freedom of Information request for it to be published.

And it has refused to accept demands for an independent inquiry into deaths caused by the DWP’s failure to follow its own safeguarding rules, despite having received a petition signed by nearly 35,000 people (at the time of writing).

Ms Whiting’s mother has condemned the response as a “joke”, and has said she would like to take legal action against the DWP.

It occurs to me that Mr Craven should link up with her, to present a combined – and stronger – case. Would any other relatives of the DWP’s victims like to join in?

Source: Six-stone emaciated man who fought DWP after being denied vital benefits dies – Liverpool Echo


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