12 September 2012
What: Colin Traynor, who had epilepsy, was found fit for work following a WCA, but died less than four months later. His case is raised in the Commons by Labour MP Michael Meacher. He had undergone a WCA on 4 November 2011. He previously claimed incapacity benefit because of the severity of his epilepsy. Following the DWP decision to cut his benefits by £70 a week, he experienced stress and anxiety about whether he would lose his home, be able to pay his bills, and be able to afford to eat properly. He appealed, and following the provision of further medical evidence, he was awarded ESA but placed in the work-related activity group. His health deteriorated, his seizures increased due to the stress and he lost a lot of weight. On 3 April 2012 the stress and anxiety led to a massive seizure. He died at home at the age of 29. After being informed of his death, DWP overturned the decision. In a letter to Meacher, his mother, father and sister said they “hold the Government, David Cameron, Iain Duncan Smith personally responsible for the death of our son… and brother”. DWP minister Mark Hoban said that a review had found the department ‘correctly applied the procedures for incapacity benefit reassessment in this case’ and suggested it was Colin Traynor’s fault for not providing the necessary medical evidence earlier in the process.
Why significant: His death was one of the few to be debated in depth by parliament, and highlighted the continuing concerns among disabled activists that many disabled people were dying shortly after being found fit for work, demonstrating that the WCA system was not fit for purpose.