25 September 2013
What: Tim Salter, who had mental health problems, including agoraphobia, had previously attempted to take his own life in 1989, which had left him partially-sighted. He had been claiming incapacity benefit but was found fit for work after being assessed by a physiotherapist. After he took his own life, his sister Linda found there was no food in the house, and he had no money in his bank account. She found a letter in the dustbin from a housing association which was threatening him with eviction. A coroner later ruled that a major factor in his death was that his benefits had been “greatly reduced, leaving him almost destitute”. Although DWP’s independent case examiner (ICE) concluded there were no flaws in how his case had been dealt with, a later investigation by the parliamentary and health service ombudsman found the assessment should have sought further medical evidence because he had disclosed a previous suicide attempt. ICE later apologised to his sister for its flawed investigation.
Why significant: Another death linked to the flawed WCA process and the failure to seek further medical evidence.