Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Depraved indifference in the UK

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, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, we know that Ministers were repeatedly warned of this death toll:

A series of secret internal inquiries into the deaths of people claiming social security reveal that ministers were repeatedly warned of shortcomings in the treatment of vulnerable claimants facing potentially traumatic cuts to their benefits entitlements.

The conclusions are contained in 49 Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) inquiry reports finally released to campaigners on Friday after a two-year Freedom of Information (FOI) battle. Some 40 of the reports followed a suicide. In 10 cases, the claimant had had their benefits sanctioned.

Although the heavily redacted reports do not draw a direct link between the death of a claimant and problems caused by their dealings with the benefits system, they highlight widespread flaws in the handling by DWP officials of claims by people with mental illness or learning difficulty.

The reports, called “peer reviews,” appear to challenge blanket claims by ministers that there is no connection between government welfare reform policies and the deaths of vulnerable claimants.

But despite these repeated warnings and recommendations for change, government Ministers have not changed their murderous policies. At best, its depraved indifference: they simply don't care if beneficiaries are forced into suicide. But as the warnings stack up, and Ministers continue to knowingly pursue policies they have been repeatedly told are killing people, it stops being indifference and becomes pre-meditated murder.