SNP MP condemns “devastating consequences” of Tory welfare policies.
Hundreds of vulnerable people across the UK are dying every month after being told to start preparing for work, according to new statistics which of been condemned as “damning evidence” of the impact of Tory welfare policies.
Figures uncovered through freedom of information laws reveal 10,950 people died between March 2014 to February 2017 after being placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
The Daily Record reports that this includes up to 1000 Scots, which equates to around 36 ESA WRAG deaths every month. While across the UK, it equates to around 300 deaths per month over three years.
ESA WRAG if for sick and disabled people who assessors believe may be capable of moving into work with the right support, but campaigners and opponents of the system claim some people are being placed in the group when they should be in the higher Support Group.
Their claims are supported by official statistics that show 70% of claimants successfully overturn ESA decisions on appeal, with many of these appeals lodged by sick and disabled people who believe they should be in the ESA Support Group.
Claimants placed in this group are not required to begin looking for work, unless they choose to, and are not subject to many of the strict requirements placed on those in the ESA WRAG.
Campaigners protest against Tory welfare policies. Photo: Getty Images.
Danielle Rowley, Labour MP for Midlothian, said: “Across Scotland, thousands of people are suffering from years of Tory cuts to lifeline benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance. “Thousands of people have been put through the stress and indignity of unnecessary re-assessments, with more than 10,000 people dying whilst trying to prove they were ‘not fit for work’.”
SNP MSP Bob Doris added: “This is more damning evidence of the devastating consequences that callous Tory welfare policies are having on disabled people in Scotland. “It is imperative that time is called on the Work Capability Assessment. It’s clear the Tories shameful and disastrous welfare policies are making life even more difficult for thousands of people, as well as pushing people into debt and crisis.
“It’s time the UK Government hand over all the powers over welfare to the people of Scotland so we can build a social security system based on dignity and fairness – which the people of Scotland demand and deserve.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “ESA is an income replacement benefit awarded to people who have a health condition or disability, which will of course include those people with the most serious illnesses.
“The department does not hold information on the reason for death of a claimant, therefore it would be inaccurate to assume any causal effect from these figures between the benefit and the number of people who have sadly died.”