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Research shows links between Work Capability Assessments and suicides

What: Research concludes that the programme to reassess people on incapacity benefit (IB) through the WCA was linked to 590 suicides in just three years. The research shows that, for every 10,000 IB claimants who were reassessed in England between 2010 and 2013, there were an additional six suicides, 2,700 cases of self-reported mental health problems, and an increase of more than 7,000 in the number of anti-depressants prescribed. The most significant increases took place in the most deprived local authority areas of England. Across England as a whole, the reassessment process from 2010 to 2013 was “associated with” an extra 590 suicides, 279,000 additional cases of self-reported mental health problems, and the prescribing of a further 725,000 anti-depressants. The idea for the research came originally from disabled activist Rick Burgess, alongside disabled artist-activist Liz Crow, Jane Bence and Nick Dilworth, who wanted “recognised and respected epidemiologists” to carry out “an academically-rigorous study” into the number of deaths caused by the WCA.

Why significant: Hugely-significant research findings linking the WCA, and particularly its application to claimants of IB, with suicides and mental distress, that will used by campaigners as crucial evidence for years to come.


'‘Damning’ research on WCA deaths is ‘timely’ reminder of government’s shame', Pring, 2015
'‘First, do no harm’: are disability assessments associated with adverse trends in mental health? A longitudinal ecological study'