The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has been forced to release updated Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) mortality statistics, in response to a Freedom of Information request from disability campaigner Gail Ward.
The shocking statistics reveal that 111,450 ESA claims were closed following the death of claimants between March 2014 to February 2017. However, the DWP stress that “no causal effect between the benefit and the number of people who died should be assumed from these figures”. This is because the Department “does not hold information on the reason for death”, meaning they cannot be directly linked to any benefit problems faced by those claimants or whether some of these people had died after wrongly being found “fit for work”.
The DWP has since been urged to update these statistics to include individuals who flowed off ESA after being found “fit for work” and who died soon after this time. The data also shows that more than 8,000 Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disability Allowance claimants died over the same period.
Gail Ward told Welfare Weekly: “The fact the DWP know that disabled people are dying in such large numbers and refuse to adjust policy to reduce the stress on claimants and make sure the right outcome is 100% all the time, and with Universal Credit coming with such strict criteria, doesn’t bode well for the future for the disabled community”.