The stories of three people who killed themselves after being found 'fit to work'

A coroner has criticised the DWP's Work Capability Assessment

Independent Staff
Monday 21 September 2015 17:10
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A coronor has concluded that a man suffering from severe mental illness killed himself as a direct result of being found "fit to work" by the DWP's benefit tests.

Here are three personal tragedies where the benefits system played.

Malcolm Burge, 66

The former gardener committed suicide last year after a 50 per cent cut in his housing benefit led to him being saddled with an £800 debt he could not pay.

He had made repeated attempts to contact Newham Borough Council, and the day after his death a letter arrived at his home informing him he was the subject of legal action to reclaim the money.

After telling a friend he was going to spend a few days in the West Country, he killed himself in Cheddar Gorge. The DWP underlined that the reduction in Mr Burge’s benefit was not linked to welfare reforms.

David Clapson, 59

The diabetic former soldier was found dead in his Hertfordshire home in July last year after his benefits were cut and he did not apply for hardship payments.

He had been made the subject of “sanctioning” by the DWP, under which employment benefits are stopped for a period following a failure to comply with rules – in this case failing to keep a Job Centre appointment.

Mr Clapson had no food in his stomach and no credit on the electricity card needed to keep the fridge that stored his insulin going. His bank balance was £3.44.

Tim Salter, 53

The former store manager, from Staffordshire, took his life in September 2013 after a work capability assessment (WCA) by contractor Atos ruled he was fit to work despite being partially blind and agoraphobic.

He hanged himself after being told he was about to be evicted from his housing association home.

A coroner ruled that the DWP’s decision to cut Mr Salter’s incapacity benefit had been a “major factor” in his death.

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