Government urged to come clean over decision to cut benefits of mentally ill man Tim Salter who killed himself

Since 2012, there have been 60 reviews of decisions following deaths of benefits claimants

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The Government has been asked to publish its review of a decision to cut the benefits of a partially sighted man with mental health problems who subsequently killed himself, according to a report.

Tim Salter, 53, who was agoraphobic and had previously attempted suicide, was found dead in his home in Stourbridge in 2013 by his sister, Linda Cooksey, The Guardian reported.

He had no food, no money in the bank and his housing association was threatening to evict him.

Now Ms Cooksey has asked the Government to reveal the findings of its review of the decision to declare him fit for work. Since 2012, there have been 60 such reviews following the deaths of the claimants.

“The chap who assessed my brother was a physiotherapist,” she told The Guardian. “He didn’t know anything about mental health.

“They should have taken notice of the first paragraph of his statement, that he had attempted suicide, that he had low moods.

“You’d think they would say, ‘We better tread carefully here.’ The system does not cater for mental health problems.”

She said she had been shocked to learn about the 60 investigations. “It’s the vulnerable people who are going to be affected the worst. The DWP need to publish these reviews,” Ms Cooksey said.

She described her brother as a “lovely, lovely man”. “When he was younger he was very generous, very kind. He would always say, ‘Don’t worry about me, you’ve got your own family to worry about,’” she said.

In 2013, some 871,000 people were sanctioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), losing some or all of their benefits for weeks or months.

In November, John Pring, of the Disability News Service, which first reported that 60 cases had been looked into by the DWP, told The Independent on Sunday: “It does seem to be the first kind of solid evidence that the DWP do seem to accept there's some link between mistakes they make in their procedures and the deaths of people.”

The DWP said it was not going to publish the reviews, but said one case had led to guidelines for staff being changed.

“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,” it said. “We carry out peer reviews in certain cases to establish whether anything should have been done differently but a peer review in itself does not necessarily mean that mistakes were made.”

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