Thursday, 27 August 2015

Top Fucking Work, Britain

The Department for Work and Pensions defends itself from findings that an average of eighty people a month die after being declared fit for work or being placed in a preparing for work group:

“Any causal effect between benefits and mortality cannot be assumed from these statistics. Additionally, 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 work capability assessment.”

It added: “DWP does not hold information on the reason for death, therefore no causal effect between the WCA decision and the number of people who died within a year of that decision should be assumed from these figures.”

These statistics have only been released as a result of freedom of information requests. Of course, they are not systematic because they are released by the DWP under duress rather than by an independent group that has properly researched the figures. 

The DWP's statement is quite right then: we cannot assume any causal link between the deaths and the ending of people's claims. This is not because the data is inconclusive but because it is incomplete. Indeed, if there are concerns (which there have been for years, this data release being the culmination of them) that people are being declared fit for work when they are clearly not, surely it is in the best interests of the DWP to clear those concerns up. It is truly astonishing that their statement strikes such a defensive tone. The natural response should be, "we - or somebody independent - will now complete the research and establish the causes."

The DWP fought for months to avoid the release of these numbers. It has ignored steadily accumulating requests for an overhaul of its assessment system by the likes of the British Psychological Society. It has ignored expressions of concern from charities and from within its own ranks that the perverse incentive to cut welfare expenditure was creating greater homelessness and causing unnecessary suffering.

The dismal result of our current obsession with "welfare scroungers" is quiet desperation accompanied sometimes by death while an evasive Ian Duncan Smith wins media plaudits. Well done, Britain. Top fucking work again.





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