Death by benefit cuts

With the numerous rumours being published about more benefit cuts after the elections, I decided to research into the impact the last cuts made on the people who were mainly hit by them. I managed to find an article dated the 23rd of December 2014 on the Independent’s website which states that benefit cuts are already being blamed for the death of so many vulnerable people.

According to the article, disability rights groups are claiming that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the government have covered-up a series of benefit claimants’ deaths. Cases (apparently) include:

1) D. Clapton, a diabetic who was found dead from a lack of insulin after his benefits were stopped. He had no food in his flat and had just £3.44 in his bank account. Clapton was an ex-soldier who had been deemed not to be taking his job searches seriously enough, even thought there was a pile of CV’s in his flat… One thing they are not pointing out is that he could have always gone to a local food bank if he was that desperate for food. And with him being a diabetic the DWP would have directed him to organisations where he could get food easily. And can I also just add that a pile of CV’s in ones flat doesn’t mean they are actively seeking work, the DWP need evidence and a pile of CV’s isn’t sufficient enough. Now I know the DWP are a bit OTT when it comes to imposing sanctions, however, there are a number of idiots who spoil it for everyone by claiming they’re actively seeking work when they aren’t, therefore the DWP have to have strict guidelines in order to make sure people aren’t just saying they applied for work just to get their benefits… Blame the scum of society for this, not the DWP or government.

2) M. Wood, a 44 year-old man who suffered from complex mental health issues. He reportedly starved to death after he was deemed fit for work after attending a ATOS Healthcare assessment. He had his benefits stopped and he was forced to live on just £40 a week… So why did he not appeal the ATOS decision? Or he could have just signed on to Jobsekers Allowance (JSA) and looked for a job, which wouldn’t have resulted in his benefits being stopped. Yes he had complex mental issues, however, they may not have been severe enough to stop him being in employment.

There are links featured in the article which apparently list over 60 cases of death by benefit cuts, however, rather conveniently, they either don’t load when you try to open them or you get directed to a 404 error page. So where is the evidence?

I also found a piece on from February this year, of a pensioner who set himself on fire after his benefits were cut.
M.Burge was 66 years-old and owed £809.79 in rent and council tax as a result of his housing benefit and council tax benefit being cut by the government welfare reforms. His entitlement to housing benefit was reduced from £89.39 to £44.79 a week and due to a back log by his local council, he ended up paying over his reduced entitlement for 6 months. His local council sent him 10 letters demanding the payment of the arrears but Burge was apparently unaware that his benefits had been reduces. So why, when he first started receiving the letters, did he not question the council as to why he owed the money? Surely if he had no idea that the benefit had been reduced then he would wonder how he was in debt? The letters would have included the reason as to why he owed the money and he could have easily set up a payment plan with the council to pay back the money owed in monthly instalments. That would have been more beneficial to himself and his family than him setting fire to himself in his car. The article stated that a group of teenagers tried to save him but he later died in hospital from 2nd degree burns. What psychological damage has he caused to these kids? He couldn’t have just committed suicide at home or somewhere where it wouldn’t have an impact on anyone witnessing it?

And typically the council ignored the letters from Burge claiming he was stressed, depressed and suicidal. And surprise surprise, blame the error on the pressures of the government funding cuts. They also admitted that Burge was confused and that his case was closed without response… So who was to blame? The council for not being competent enough to inform Burge of his case being closed? The government for introducing the cuts in the first place? Or Burge for not seeking a rational solution to the problem?

Of course people are going to blame the government, but something had to be done about the welfare state. If that means cutting people’s benefits then so be it, if Labour hadn’t made the welfare system so easy to abuse then maybe the cuts wouldn’t of had to be enforced.
The council should have also trained their staff better so that they could deal with the changes the cuts were going to make. They also could have put in a system for vulnerable elderly people like Burge.

This shows that people will take no responsibility for their own welfare and it doesn’t matter what help organisations offer them, they will always blame someone else over their failings to remedy problems. No one could do the job searches for Clapton, no one could appeal for Wood and no one could have sorted Burge’s arrears, only they could do something about it but chose not to seek further help for whatever reasons.

The cuts needed to be enforced, so if you really need to blame anyone, then blame Labour for the financial mess they left the country in.


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