12 January 2017
What: Lawrence Bond collapses and dies in the street, hours after visiting Kentish Town jobcentre in north London. He had been found fit for work the previous autumn and had been awaiting the result of an appeal against being found fit for work. He had been ill with conditions including heart disease, the lung condition sarcoidosis, diabetes, cirrhosis, depression, anxiety, agoraphobia and high blood pressure, and had been referred to a respiratory clinic. He also had Asperger’s syndrome. His sister, Iris, said her brother had been desperately unwell, which would have been obvious to anyone who saw him, including the healthcare professional from Maximus who assessed his fitness for work the previous autumn. Her brother had visited the jobcentre on the day he died, and had been asked to climb some stairs. She believes he told a member of staff that he would have a heart attack if he did so, and when told he could use the lift he asked if someone could accompany him because of his claustrophobia. He was told this was not possible, but it was agreed that someone would come down to speak to him. His sister said: “He was so distressed by then that [after leaving the jobcentre] he went to see a friend, who calmed him down, because he was very anxious and frightened.” He collapsed later that day at a bus stop. She says the stress of what happened at the jobcentre “definitely” contributed to his death.
Why significant: Lawrence’s death is one of many which were not satisfactorily examined at an inquest. The similarities between Lawrence Bond’s death and the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake were striking (see 22 May 2016) and led to Loach – and shadow chancellor John McDonnell – speaking at a protest and vigil that was held outside the jobcentre days after he died.