27 August 2015
What: After nearly three years of delays, DWP finally publishes figures which show how many benefit claimants died while claiming out-of-work benefits. The two sets of data show mortality statistics for out-of-work disability benefit claimants, and death rates for all out-of-work benefit claimants. Activists had been calling on DWP to publish updated statistics since November 2012, in an effort to prove the WCA was so damaging that it was causing deaths. The figures show that, of the two million people who had gone through a WCA and had received an ESA decision between 1 May 2010 and 28 Feb 2013, nearly 41,000 had died within a year of that decision. They also show that, between December 2011 and February 2014, 81,140 people died while claiming ESA or incapacity benefit (IB). And 2,650 ESA and IB claimants died soon after being found “fit for work” following a WCA. Another 7,200 died after being placed in the ESA work-related activity group (WRAG), for claimants the government had decided were well enough to move back towards work. DWP insists that it is not possible to assume any “causal effect between benefits and mortality” from the “isolated figures” it had published, which “provide limited scope for analysis”. It insists that “nothing can be gained from this publication that would allow the reader to form any judgement as to the effects or impacts of the WCA”.
Why significant: Still not clear today exactly what the figures show. The evidence showing a link between the IB reassessment programme and the deaths of claimants was to come from outside DWP [see 16 November 2015].