What you need to know about the report on deaths and benefit sanctions


DWP statistics have caused controversy

THE Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has released a report entitled “Mortality Statistics” uncovering the figures on social security claimants who have died.

The statistics tracked claimants on incapacity benefit (IB), severe disability allowance (SDA) or employment and support allowance (ESA).

CommonSpace takes a look at some of the key points.

The DWP tried to stop its publication

Iain Duncan Smith initially stipulated that the statistics did not exist . However, after months of battling with campaigners and opposition benches, the statistics were published by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Total death toll of IB, SDA and ESA claimants

The total death toll of ESA and IB and SDA social security claimants between December 2011 and February 2014 sits at 81,140.

30,560 were on IB and SDA, and 50,580 were on ESA.

Thousands of ESA claimants who subsequently died were sent to a “work related activity group”

Out of the 50,580 claiming ESA who died during the period of December 2011 to February 2014, 7,200 had previously been placed on ‘work related activity groups’, a category that renders claimants unfit for work but capable of returning to work at some point in the future.

Four per cent of ESA claimants who subsequently died were deemed ‘fit for work’

Of the 50,580 ESA claimants, 2,380 people had been previously deemed ‘fit for work’, meaning that they were at risk of having their ESA cut.

Many attmepted to overturn the decision to end benefits

The figures reveal that between December 2011 and February 2014, a total of 2,380 people died after undergoing a Work Capability Assessment and being told to look for work.

Out of the 2,380 people who died, 1,340 had previously appealed against the decision that they were fit for work.

Whether these appeals were successful or not remains unknown.

Mortality trends are not consistent with the general population

The figures demonstrate that between May 2010 and February 2013, 2,017,070 people were given a decision after undergoing a Work Capability Assessment.

40,680 died within a year of that decision.

The data shows a drop in the overall mortality rates of claimants. The annual number of deaths per 100,000 fell from 822 to 734 between 2003 and 2013.

However, this does not follow the decline in the mortality rates of the general population, which dropped from 305 to 240 over the same period.

The DWP stated in the report that: “Any causal effect between benefits and mortality cannot be assumed from these statistics.”

Picture courtesy of UK in Spain