The Tories’ harsh welfare regime has been dealt yet another blow — with a study linking so-called Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) to hundreds of suicides.
The news comes after a coroner blamed the suicide of a disabled man on a fit-to-work test and Iain Duncan Smith lost a battle to keep secret the DWP statistics on the deaths of ‘fit to work’ claimants.
The Oxford and Liverpool University researchers which conducted the study concluded:
“The programme of reassessing people on disability benefits using the work capability assessment was independently associated with an increase in suicides …
“This policy may have had serious adverse consequences for mental health in England, which could outweigh any benefits that arise from moving people off disability benefits.
The DWP have responded by calling the report “wholly misleading”. And well they might.
Back in 2006 Iain Duncan Smith called for “liability for suicide” to be made a criminal offence. Attempting to introduce new legislation, Duncan Smith told the Commons:
“I urge the Government to think positively about including an offence of liability for suicide in any new legislation, and also carefully to consider expanding the definition of diminished responsibility so that it includes a proper recognition of psychological injury.
Though this push was made in the context of domestic abuse, the relevance of this principle for IDS’ current portfolio are obvious.
So will IDS be handing himself in at Chingford Police Station if research establishes a causal link between DWP policies and suicide?