AT WHAT COST, IDS?
Campaigners demand the truth of how many have died after being sent back to work by Iain Duncan Smith’s hated work capability assessments
by Lamiat Sabin
THE government faced demands yesterday to come clean over how many ill and disabled people have died after wrongly being declared “fit for work” under Iain Duncan Smith’s cruel benefits regime.
At least 10,600 people who had been receiving benefits were found to have died of undisclosed causes between January and November 2011 and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refuses to update or elaborate on the figure.
A petition calling for the Conservative government to reveal exactly how many people had died within six weeks of being forced back into work after undergoing slapdash “work capability assessments” is gaining momentum, with more than 180,000 signatures.
“Iain Duncan Smith should come clean about the full impact of benefit changes. He must end this cover up,” said Green Party work and pensions spokesman Jonathan Bartley.
“The public needs to know exactly how many have died after being certified ‘fit for work’ as part of his reforms.
“The government’s reluctance to tell the truth suggests it has something serious to hide.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Duncan Smith announced that £15 billion would be slashed from the welfare budget — £3bn more than the Tories declared before the general election.
Two days before the election, he was challenged by Mr Bartley in a live television debate over the number of claimants’ suicides that his department had reviewed.
Mr Duncan Smith point-blank denied that any reviews had taken place.But, as the Star reported two weeks ago, 49 cases were peer reviewed by the DWP, as the deaths had been linked to suicide after their benefits had been sanctioned.
Ten people were confirmed to have killed themselves after their benefits were taken away for up to a year — leaving them with very little to no money for daily essentials.
“With austerity now in overdrive and a race to the bottom on welfare underway, the full picture is more important than ever,” said Mr Bartley.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has said that there is no reason why the public should not know the full extent of the deaths, but the DWP has appealed the decision.
A mass People’s Assembly demonstration will hit central London on Saturday in anger at the harsh welfare cuts implemented by the Conservative Party while its backers enjoy aggressive tax avoidance schemes and profit from increased privatisation.
“The Tories have lined their pockets with blood money from the poorest in society and are trying to hide it,” People’s Assembly general secretary Sam Fairbairn told the Star.
“We all know the richest have doubled their wealth since the recession hit — now we demand to know at what human cost.
“This vicious government has to go and the demonstration on Saturday will kick start a mass movement that’s going to do it.”
The End Austerity Now demonstrators will assemble at 12 noon outside the Bank of England in Queen Victoria Street, London, where they will march to Parliament Square.