Local politician Mhairi Black MP is calling on the UK Government to to launch an independent inquiry into deaths linked with welfare reforms after it was revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) hid documents linking the department’s fit-for-work test to the deaths of disabled benefit claimants.
The Disability News Service reported in May 2019 that the DWP had admitted that two letters written by coroners and a series of ‘peer reviews’ into the deaths of claimants were kept teams reviewing the work capability assessment. In response, the DWP stated that it was too late to know for sure and that the documents may have been destroyed.
The SNP has led a campaign to eradicate damaging polices that have led people to believe suicide is their only option. They have called on the UK Government to follow the Scottish Government’s lead and introduce audio recordings of assessments, which the UK government is now trialling.
The SNP’s call for this inquiry follows research that revealed that suicides relating to disability benefits had doubled under the Tory government.
Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, said: “The UK Government must come clean and launch an independent inquiry into any deaths that have been linked with Tory welfare reforms. Austerity squeezes the dignity out of our most vulnerable people. It has gotten to the point that people are taking their lives due to government commissioned assessments.
“It is shocking that information has been kept from those reviewing these claims for so long that the department are now saying it is to late to know for certain if the fitness for work tests did indeed contribute to the deaths of disabled benefit claimants.
“The Tories have failed disabled people by concealing issues and hiding from their drastic failings in welfare policy. Scotland needs the full powers of independence to deliver a fair and dignified welfare system, so we can ensure no more deaths occur from disastrous welfare policy. “