There have been many articles regarding the negative impact of the welfare reforms on the unemployed and the chronically sick and disabled community (see for example, Dr David Webster). Yet, following six years of independent research, few have identified the reality behind the introduction of the welfare reforms as planned over 30 years ago.
‘Preventable harm’ is a medical term regularly identified as being the result of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), introduced in 2008 by the New Labour government to assess claimants of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) income replacement benefit, awarded to people who are unfit to work.
Since 2010 the research evidence identified the WCA as being a discredited assessment model lacking clinical credibility, and there was a failed attempt by the Cabinet Office to ‘incentivise’ this author to stop the research. By 2012 the BMA identified the WCA as dangerous as did the RCN in 2013. The Work and Pensions Select Committee published a report in 2014 advising that the entire claims process for the ESA must be redesigned due to the anxiety created by the WCA, with Caroline Lucas MP identifying the WCA as ‘corporate manslaughter’ during debate (column 460) in the House of Commons in February 2014.
The 2012 Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) mortality totals identified 10,600 deaths of ESA claimants following a WCA, between January to November 2011. New DWP mortality totals published in 2015 acknowledged a total of 2,380 people who had died between December 2011 and February 2014, having been identified as ‘fit for work’, with the total number of deaths following a WCA identified as 81,140. This makes the total number of deaths linked to the WCA as rapidly approaching 100,000 people since January 2011, with many others not admitted as claimants migrated from the ESA to unemployment benefit, who subsequently die from ill health, now no longer collated by the DWP.
Research evidence by this author, and by many others, was provided for the United Nations (UN) as BBC News announced an official UN investigation of the British government for possible breaches of the Human Rights of Britain’s disabled people. The UN report will be published this year.
Any suggestion of crimes against humanity by a British government evokes a defensive reaction by some academics, who seem very reluctant to accept that government policy is demonstrated to be causing preventable harm to those least able to protest. Crimes against humanity are defined by the International Criminal Court as including ‘part of government policy or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government authority.’
This is the very definition of the fear, despair and listed human tragedies that have caused starvation to be added to the list of suffering by this nation’s chronically sick and disabled population, whose only crime is that they are unfit to work.
For the past six years Mo Stewart has conducted independent research exposing the human consequences of the introduction of the WCA, with evidence from the research informing welfare reform debates in the House of Lords and the House of Commons since 2011. The research is endorsed by academics, national charities and DPOs and is available via ResearchGate. Mo Stewart is a retired healthcare professional.