Wednesday, April 20, 2016

FOIA uncovers the human toll of UK benefit cuts

Since 2010, Britain's Tory government has viciously cut benefits, subjecting the disabled to privatised "Work Capability Assessments" and then cutting off their support. So far, this policy has resulted in an estimated 590 suicides, and the actual figure could be much more. Now, Britain's welfare authorities may be forced to publish what they know about their death toll:

The Department for Work and Pensions may be forced to disclose details of secret investigations into the suicides and other deaths of benefit claimants, after a successful tribunal appeal.

Disability rights campaigners, mental health charities and the families of claimants who have killed themselves or died after cuts to benefits have argued that 49 DWP secret investigations or “peer reviews” into the deaths of claimants should be published. A peer review is triggered when a suicide or alleged suicide is “associated with a DWP activity”, according to its internal guidance.

The Disability News Service (DNS), which first disclosed that the DWP had conducted 60 reviews into the deaths of benefit claimants after a freedom of information request in 2014, won its appeal against the DWP’s subsequent refusal to publish any information from them and the decision of the information commissioner’s office (ICO), last September, to uphold the government’s refusal.

Which means we'll be able to see whether recommendations were made to prevent such deaths, whether they were implemented, and who needs to be held to account for this heartless, murderous policy.

And as usual, I'm left wondering: National has pursued the same policies here, imposing pointless work and health tests on the permanently sick and disabled in an effort to find an excuse to cut their benefits (to which we can also add their sheer fucking incompetence). How many have they murdered?