Category: Defend the Welfare State

Work Capability Assessments not ‘fit for purpose’ as more than 4,000 die after being found ‘fit for work’

The DWP put out a deliberately confusing report today into deaths for people losing their WCA.
Here is Unite’s press release: Please share
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Unite Press Release
For immediate use: Thursday 27 August 2015
Work Capability Assessments not ‘fit for purpose’ as more than 4,000 die after being found ‘fit for work’
The Department for Work Pensions’ (DWP) Work Capability Assessments aren’t fit for purpose and should be scrapped in their current form urged Britain’s largest union, Unite, as shock figures revealed more than 4,000 people died within six weeks of being found ‘fit for work’.
The figures released by Iain Duncan Smith’s department, after a freedom of information request, show that between December 2011 and February 2014 4,010 people died after being told they should find work following a Work Capability Assessment. Of that figure, 1,360 died after appealing against a ‘fit for work’ decision.
Of the 4,010 who died after being told they were ‘fit for work’, 3,720 were in receipt of Employment Support Allowance, while 290 where on either Incapacity Benefit or its replacement, Severe Disablement Allowance.
The union accused the government of going to enormous lengths and wasting tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money in legal fees to keep the figures hidden.
Commenting Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner said: “These disturbing figures show that there is something deeply wrong with Iain Duncan Smith’s Work Capability Assessments.
“It is clear that the system isn’t fit for purpose and in some instances is finding people ‘fit for work’ as they enter the final months of their lives. In its current form it is nothing more than an impersonal tick box exercise that takes no account of people’s complex medical conditions and only causes worry and distress.
“Iain Duncan Smith’s attempts to bury bad news are shameful. He needs to show some humility by scrapping the current Work Capability Assessments and ordering a review into the system’s cruel failings.
“Whether or not someone is fit for work should not be determined by private sector companies driven by profit or targets imposed by Ministers fixated on cutting the benefit bill. It should be trained NHS medical staff carrying out work capability assessments in a revised system with the need for on-going support and assistance at its core.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web:
Notes to editors
  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

Defend the Welfare State meeting

Over the past two years 2 million welfare benefit claimants have been sanctioned. This has led to the unemployed, disabled and chronically ill people going hungry and the spread of food banks as a last resort for many people in poverty situations.

Unite the Unions Community Section are organising a meeting in Barnsley Library on Monday the 12th of January at 5.30 pm,  with the aim of bringing together interested parties to coordinate a practical response to these cruel an unnecessary attacks on the most vulnerable people in our society. Unite have invited a wide range of  groups and societies that are already working tirelessly to alleviate the problems caused by the welfare reforms some of which are listed below we hope you can attend this important meeting and suggest ways in which we can help oppose these appalling policies.

Barnsley Invite Letter
Defend the welfare state barnsley meeting
Advice and Benefits Flyer