1 September 2015

Figures released by the Government, after the intervention of the Information Commissioner, have revealed that a significant number of people have died after their Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claim was ended.

In just over two years, between December 2011 and February 2014, around 90 people a month died according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), whose statistical document can be found at http://bit.ly/1Ijs97w.

The total of over 2300 deaths in that period has shocked trade unions with TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady immediately calling for an enquiry into the Government’s back-to-work regime.

"These disturbing findings cannot be swept under the carpet," she continued.

The people who died had received Work Capability Assessments (WCA) to decide if they were eligible to receive ESA, which replaced incapacity benefit, income support and severe disablement allowance in 2008.

However, the DWP has insisted that no link could be assumed between the deaths and claimants being deemed fit for work.

"These isolated figures provide limited scope for analysis and nothing can be gained from this publication that would allow the reader to form any judgment as to the effects or impacts of the WCA," the DWP said.

Its report points out that, while there have been changes to the benefit system and economic climate since 2003, the mortality rate for out-of-work working age benefit claimants in Great Britain has remained around three times higher than for the general population.

There are, it notes, a higher proportion of people who are sick or disabled among those on benefits than in the general population.