DWP figures show 2,380 people died between 2011 and 2014, after having disability benefit slashed and being sent back to work
The DWP just can’t keep themselves out of the papers at the moment. Figures they were forced to hand over yesterday by a freedom of information request have been released, giving us (amongst other statistics) the number of people who have died in the last few years, shortly after being declared “fit to work” by the private contractor ATOS, whom the government use to police each new round of welfare cuts.
It was revealed that of those who had their benefits removed and were deemed “fit to work” (or, indeed, “not disabled enough to be helped”) between 2011 and 2014, 2380 of them had died. A government statement insists that the deaths “cannot be linked to welfare reforms”, but the public and the press are in uproar; a loss of sustainable income can mean serious lifestyle changes which affect health badly, especially in those with pre-existing chronic conditions.
The government has already taken a significant amount of flak over the last round of cuts (tempered by the Lib Dems), but the next five years will be filled with further hardship for deserving welfare claimants. The disabled, in particular, have been out in force to protest the Tory cuts multiple times, most noticeably in June when a crowd of protestors attempted to storm the chamber of the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions.
The problem with these cuts is that they target current, as well as future claimants. Some people who have been receiving money to help with maintenance will have it cut after 10 years of claiming, and have to downgrade their quality of life accordingly. Those who have already been hit by the infamous bedroom tax will take even more of a beating, and the Tories will continue to look for more ways to squeeze those less fortunate than themselves until the state is a fraction of what it once was. The impersonal, cold, calculating enterprise of ATOS and the DWP will not deal with claimants as humans but as figures on a page, as if dehumanising those they are victimising will allow them to sleep at night; meanwhile, the body count continues to rise.