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UK benefit claimants die mysteriously

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Mortality statistics for people on out-of-work benefits released by DWP.

A new data from the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions reveals the death of more than 2,000 benefit claimants between 2011 and 2014.

The DWP figures disclosed that most of the claimants were reported dead within weeks of being declared “fit for work” and taken off sickness benefits.

The data has been compiled in response to freedom of information requests. It shows that out of 50,580 deaths of recipients of employment and support allowance (ESA) benefit between December 2011 and February 2014, 2,380 were those who were found fit for work, meaning that they were at risk of losing their ESA benefit.

The cause of death has not been recorded making it impossible to ascertain whether those were linked to an incorrect assessment. The DWP, in the report, has also insisted that no causal link could be drawn between benefits status and the likelihood of dying. The department, however, defended the accuracy of the work capability assessment conducted between 2011 and 2014.

“Statistics only tell us the number of people who have died while on employment and support allowance, not the circumstances or details of these deaths”, Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind said.

Reports say there have been hundreds of thousands of appeals of fit-for-work decisions over the last few years.

The revelation has prompted campaign groups to call for an urgent official inquiry as well as an overhaul in the government’s controversial welfare regime. Campaigners have long criticized the DWP as crude and inaccurate.

“We do have serious concerns about the benefit system, particularly for those with mental health problems currently being supported by ESA”, Pollard said.


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