So, the much anticipated death statistics have finally been released and we now know just how many people have died in this country after having been found fit for work and coming off benefits.
Or do we? The number seems to change every time you read it and seems to depend largely on the source. I’ve seen numbers ranging from just under 3,000 to well over 91,000.
I have just been reading an article in today’s Guardian, my prefered media outlet, which is saying that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 within 14 days of being told they were ‘Fit for Work’ after a Work Capability Assessment. Maybe not as big a number as the 91,000 other sources appear to be quoting yet still totally outrageous. Even if the lowest figure given is accepted as the true figure, this amounts to nine disabled people dying every day, nine disabled people who have been deemed ‘fit for work’ within the previous six weeks, nine disabled people who are no longer with us.
That is nine people too many.
We need to push the Government into responding to this. Exactly how many people have died is not the main issue, the main issue is what is the Government going to do to stop this happening any more. We have to make sure we do not fall into the trap of arguing about which set of figures are the real ones rather than pushing for long overdue reform .
No matter which figure is the true figure, how can the WCA test and the classification of people as being deemed to be ‘Fit for Work’ be trusted and acceptable? It can’t be. But arguing amongst ourselves about which figures are right and which figures are wrong won’t get us anywhere. We need our elected leaders, Mr Cameron and Mr Duncan Smith, to explain to us how nine deaths EVERY DAY could be seen as being right? Nine deaths every day is indicative of a flawed system that needs to be suspended and reformed. We need to press for answers.
Why aren’t you reforming the system Mr Cameron? Why aren’t you doing that Mr Duncan Smith? Explain why, we’d all be very interested in knowing. Could it be because there is no legitimate answer you can give.
The current system needs to be scrapped.and consigned to the dustbin of history. And this needs to happen today.
A worthwhile legacy for the nine people who died every day for over two years has to be a system which is fair for all disabled people. A system which helps those disabled people who are well enough and capable of working find suitable employment. A system where there are training opportunities for disabled people who want to work but lack the skills to do so. A system that supports those disabled people who are in work but need a little extra help. A system that supports those disabled people who are incapable of working due to the restrictions imposed on them by their impairments to live a full and enriching life. A system that doesn’t punish people for not being well enough to work. A system that does not drive people into committing suicide. A system that enables all disabled people to reach their full potential. What we really need is a system that recognises and values all disabled people as full members of our rich and varied society.
And when will this happen? It can’t happen soon enough.
16% of the population or 5.8 million adults of working age in the UK have some form of disability. The system must ensure that all of these people receive the support they deserve. No more disabled people can be allowed to be punished just for being too sick to work. No more disabled people can be left living in abject poverty due to an inadequate welfare support network. No more disabled people can be thrown on the scrap heap. No more disabled people must die.