Tagged: Gill Thompson

IDS flees from sister of dead claimant

Iain Duncan Smith dropped out of a hustings in his own constituency at the last minute, frightened of facing the sister of David Clapson, the diabetic former soldier who died after his benefits were cut.

IDS should have appeared on a platform with candidates from six other parties in Chingford, north London on Monday night.

Gill Thompson, the sister of David Clapson, was there to talk about how having his benefits stopped for missing an appointment had led to her brother’s death and to call IDS to account.

But, with just hours to go, IDS was suddenly called to “to the north-west of the country” for unexplained reasons.

According to the Daily Mirror, Thompson moved some in the audience to tears as she explained the circumstances surrounding her brother’s death.

“My brother died because of Iain Duncan Smith’s policies,” she said. “He wasn’t a scrounger. He was a former soldier. He died with a pile of CVs next to his body. He was a diabetic. After he was sanctioned he couldn’t even keep his insulin cold in the fridge.”

Just last week, we asked After Harper no-show on Newsnight, will IDS duck his benefits debate too? This followed DWP minister benefits stopped for missing an appointment’s last minute refusal to appear in a Newsnight debate on benefits.

It’s beginning to look more and more likely that the answer to that question will be ‘Yes’.

Source –  Benefits & Work, 29 Apr 2015

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3084-ids-flees-from-sister-of-dead-claimant

Victory for sanctions enquiry

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from Change.org

Few of us, I am sure, can forget the tragic and appalling death (by DWP sanctions) of  David Clapson

https://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

His sister, Gill Thompson took to Change.org to petition David Cameron for an enquiry into the benefit sanctions that killed her brother.

Whilst dealing with her own grief, Gill amassed a huge 211,821 signatures for her petition, the result of which informed the DWP select committee enquiry (see link to report below)

It is interesting to note, that the Labour party have committed to accept all the recommendations in the DWP select Committee Inquiry report.

14 Apr 2015 — Dear All,

On 24th March the DWP Select Committee Inquiry’s findings and recommendations were officially published.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmworpen/814/814.pdf.

There are also attachments to the witnesses’ written evidence including David’s story.

It proves a rather hard read with page 56-62 listing the recommendations (26 in total).

I record below some of…

View original post 698 more words

DWP Urged To Publish Inquiries On Benefit Claimant Suicides

This article  was written by Karen McVeigh, for The Guardian on Sunday 14th December 2014

The Department for Work and Pensions has been urged by mental health and disability charities to publish its secret investigations into suicides that may have some link to benefit changes, following revelations that it has carried out internal reviews into 60 such cases.

A Freedom of Information request by the Disability News Service has revealed that the DWP has carried out “60 peer reviews following the death of a customer” since February 2012. A peer review is triggered when suicide or alleged suicide is “associated with a DWP activity”, according to its internal guidance.

Despite growing concern over the way benefits are administered in relation to vulnerable individuals, and amid a number of reports of related deaths, the department told the Guardian it had no plans to publish the reviews.

Disabled People Against the Cuts said that, because of the way the reviews were carried out, the DWP figure was likely to be the “tip of the iceberg”.

Tom Pollard, the policy and campaigns manager at Mind, told the Guardian the figures were a concern. He stressed that suicide was a complex problem but added:

“It would be helpful for organisations to see what things could be going wrong in the benefit system that could lead to these tragic situations.”

Sue Bott, director of policy and services at Disability Rights UK, said DWP reviews should be transparent.

“There have been allegations and anecdotal evidence for a while that the benefits regime has tipped people over the edge. It should be looked into in a transparent way,”

“This is not just about the nature of the decision taken as to whether it was right or wrong. It’s also about the process and there is a lot of concern about the way benefits are administered.”

The DWP’s latest figures show that sanctions to punish disabled ESA claimants had risen by 470% in 18 months, from 1,096 in December 2012 to 5,132 in June 2014.

According to DWP figures released as the result of an FoI request, 62% of adverse ESA sanction decisions in the first three months of 2014 were made against people with mental or behavioural problems (9,851 out of 15,955).

The calls for transparency from the DWP come after a number of reports of the deaths and suicides of vulnerable individuals after adverse benefit decisions.

David Clapson, 59, a former soldier and type-1 diabetic, died in July after his benefit was cut. Clapson had no food in his stomach, £3.44 in the bank and no money on his electricity card, leaving him unable to operate his fridge where he kept insulin.

MPs are to look into his death after a petition written by Gill Thompson, his sister, gathered more than 200,000 signatures.

Thompson, told the Guardian:

“All I’ve ever asked for is lessons to be learned. I can’t bring him back but we should know what is going on. There are certain people who shouldn’t be sanctioned. People with terminal cancer, waiting for heart operations, people with diabetes. Before they sanctioned my brother, they knew his disability. He was waiting to hear from a job, he had been on work placement. He was claiming the bare minimum.”

Christine Norman, a nurse whose disabled sister, Jacqueline Harris, took her own life in November 2013 after her benefits were cut, said:

“It’s too late for my sister. Everything is stacked against you. If you’ve got a great education, if you have great health, you’re OK. But if you haven’t, you have to fight against the odds. The government want you to work. The ones they pick are the ones that are vulnerable and ill.”

An inquest found last month that Harris, 53, of Bristol, who was partially sighted, took her own life after months of constant pain and following a “fit for work” ruling that replaced her incapacity benefit with jobseeker’s allowance. Staff at a jobcentre Harris was told to attend had to call an ambulance after she blacked out in pain.

Disabled People Against Cuts said that, because the DWP’s reviews only relate to suicides or alleged suicides and were triggered by regional managers within the benefit system, the number of deaths was likely to be far higher than the 60 cases that reached review.

Anita Bellows, of Disabled People Against Cuts, said:

“The triage for advising whether a peer review is to be carried out is done by regional managers at seven regional centres, who may not have an interest in putting them forward. Also, the guidance for peer review is focused on suicide, which does not cover people like David Clapson.”

She called on the DWP to open a proper investigation into the deaths, and include evidence from medical experts.

“These should be public documents” she said. “They are also only focused on the process. There are no medical experts on it.”

The DWP said it was unable to disclose the names of individuals under review because of provisions of the Social Security Administration Act.

However, the Mental Welfare Commission of Scotland, a Scottish government-funded watchdog, published its comprehensive review of the suicide of a claimant known only as Ms DE this year. The MWCS concluded that the WCA process and the subsequent denial of ESA was at least a “major factor in her decision to take her own life”. It concluded that the work capability assessment process was flawed and needed to be more sensitive to mental health issues.

Colin McKay, chief executive of the Mental Welfare Commission of Scotland, said he was disappointed with the DWP response to the report on Ms DE, who died on 31 December 2011.

Certainly, nothing in what they said gave us confidence that if another Ms DE was claiming benefit, the outcome would be any different,” he said. “If the number of deaths are 60, that’s a lot. You would expect any organisation experiencing deaths as the potential consequences of their actions would be seriously considering whether they needed to do anything differently.”

This year a whistleblower tasked with getting claimants out of the ESA sickness benefit told the Guardian that some of her clients were homeless, many had extreme mental health problems – including paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism – and some were “starving” and extremely depressed after having benefits stopped. “Almost every day one of my clients mentioned feelings of suicide to me” she said.

Mind released research on Thursday that found that people with mental illness were having their benefit cut more than those with other illnesses. It also found 83% of those with mental health problems surveyed said their self-esteem had worsened, and 76% said they felt less able to work as a result of DWP back-to-work schemes.

The DWP said: “We take these matters extremely seriously, which is why we carry out peer reviews in certain cases to establish whether anything should have been done differently. However, a peer review in itself does not automatically mean the department was at fault.

“Since its introduction in 2008 there have been four independent reviews of the work capability assessment and we have made significant improvements to make it better, fairer and more accurate.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  14 Dec 201

http://www.welfareweekly.com/dwp-urged-publish-inquiries-benefit-claimant-suicides/

Benefit Sanctions Regime For Unemployed To Be Investigated By MPs

This article  was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for The Guardian on Thursday 23rd October 2014.

An inquiry into how the benefit sanctions regime is administered is to be mounted by the Department for Work and Pensions select committee.

The Commons all-party committee has already looked at the issue during other inquiries, and the DWP has held internal and external reviews specifically into how the sanctions regime is communicated on the Work Programme.

The new select committee inquiry, likely to be completed before the general election, follows the death of an ex-soldier after his jobseeker’s allowance was stopped.‪

More than 211,000 people signed a Change.org petition started by Gill Thompson after her diabetic brother, David Clapson, 59, was found dead in his home.‬

Thompson’s three-month campaign called for an independent inquiry into benefit sanctions – when money is withheld from claimants if they fail to meet terms agreed.‬

‪Clapson, of Stevenage, Hertfordshire, who worked for 29 years, had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped and died three weeks later. When his body was found by a friend, his electricity card was out of credit, meaning that the fridge where he kept the insulin on which his life depended had not been working.

There is intense controversy over whether jobcentres are asked to work to targets for the number of claimants sanctioned each month. The DWP acknowledges that statistics on sanctions are collated centrally and that managers can be contacted if their performance is out of line with other jobcentres. But the DWP says this is a matter of good management, and no league tables are compiled or targets set.

Thompson said:

“It’s wasn’t just for David. Nothing can replace him, but the one thing I thought I could do was to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. I’m not normally a campaigner and David wasn’t someone who liked being made a fuss of, but sometimes in life there are certain things you have to do – and starting this petition was one of them.“

The issue is one that all frontbenches are reluctant to take up, partly because public opinion is thought to be hostile to so-called “benefit scroungers”.

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  24 Oct 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/benefit-sanctions-regime-unemployed-investigated-mps/