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Hundreds of thousands of jobseekers could have ‘disappeared’ from official unemployment figures after having their benefit payments docked, figures suggest.

According to research from the University of Oxford, up to 500,000 unemployed people closed their Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claim soon after being sanctioned by the DWP.

Rather than moving into employment, these people are simply disappearing from the benefits system entirely and no one has a clue where they’re ending up.

This means that unemployment could be 20,000 to 30,000 higher each month than figures suggest. If true, it would mean that as many as 1,000,000 people would have been claiming JSA in August 2014, rather than the 970,000 widely reported in the press.

It’s also important to note that some groups aren’t included in the claimant count – one measure used to calculate unemployment – including sickness benefit claimants, some working age students and early retirees – among others.

Professor Stuckler, who analysed data from 375 local authorities, said: “The data clearly show that many people are not leaving JSA for work but appear to be being pushed off in unprecedented numbers in association with sanctions.”

The death of a diabetic former soldier after his benefits were slashed sparked a Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry. More than 210,000 people signed a petition calling for the inquiry.

David, 59, was found dead at his home in Hertfordshire in July 2013. Penniless, David could not afford money for electric to keep his insulin refrigerated and died of fatal diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication caused by lack of insulin.

At the inquiry held last week, Labour’s Debbie Abrahams MP told the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP:

“Hundreds of thousands of people have had their benefits stopped for a minimum of four weeks and then approximately a quarter of these people, from the research that I’ve seen, are disappearing.

“They are leaving and we don’t know where they are going. That’s an absolute indictment of this policy and it’s a little bit worrying if we’re trying to tout this internationally as a real success story.”

Iain Duncan Smith responded: “Well I don’t agree with any of that. I actually believe the sanctions regime as applied is fair, we always get the odd case of …”

Not giving Mr Duncan Smith a chance to complete his sentence, a furious Debbie Abrahams retorted: “People are dying because of these sanctions!”

Jobseekers who fail to comply with strict requirements imposed upon them risk having their benefits docked, or ‘sanctioned’. Some unemployed people claim their benefit payments have been stopped or reduced for trivial or harsh reasons. Such as failing to turn-up to a Job Centre appointment, even though they have informed staff they were in hospital.

After the Select Committee hearing Debbie Abrahams said:

“It’s incredible that the minister can simply brush aside the mounting evidence that inappropriate use of social security sanctions is having on vulnerable people.

“We’ve already heard from a whistleblower who left his job as a JCP advisor because he refused to apply sanctions when people had done nothing wrong.

“And recently, over 200,000 people have signed a petition to look into the death of an ex-soldier and diabetic, from Stevenage, who died after having been sanctioned.

“He was found dead surrounded by job applications, penniless and with an empty stomach according to his post-mortem. He couldn’t even afford to run his fridge so couldn’t keep his medicines cold.

Debbie said “sanctions are being applied unfairly to job-seekers as well as the sick and disabled”. Adding: “And we shouldn’t forget that most people on social security are actually in work but are struggling to make ends meet.”

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8 COMMENTS

  1. All those that are moved over to Universal Credit aren’t counted as well. All the figures pulled out of thin air by Tories are pure fantasy.

  2. the lies from this man and his department it seems truth isnt alive with our rtu ids fiddling the figures is the tory wat forward

    • 14
      Nov 2014
      DWP admits investigating 60 benefit-related deaths since 2012
      By john pring
      newslatestThe Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out 60 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths in less than three years, Disability News Service (DNS) can reveal.
      DWP released the figures in response to a series of Freedom of Information Act (FoI) requests by DNS.
      It said in one response that DWP had carried out “60 peer reviews following the death of a customer” since February 2012.
      There have been numerous reports of disabled people whose deaths have been linked to the employment and support allowance (ESA) claim process, or the refusal or removal of ESA and other benefits, including the writer Paul Reekie, who killed himself in 2010, and the deaths of Nick Barker, Jacqueline Harris, Ms DE, and Brian McArdle.
      The Scottish-based, user-led campaign group Black Triangle has collected more than 40 examples of people – most of them disabled – who appear to have died as a result of being found “fit for work” through a work capability assessment (WCA), or having their entitlement to benefits otherwise refused or removed.
      Many of the cases became widely-known through media reports of inquests, but in the case of Ms DE, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland concluded that the WCA process and the subsequent denial of ESA was at least a “major factor in her decision to take her own life”.
      But DWP has consistently denied any connection between the coalition’s welfare reforms and cuts and the deaths of benefit claimants.
      This week, DWP also released guidance used by its staff to decide whether a peer review was necessary, and guidance for authors of a peer review.
      This reveals that the role of a review is to “determine whether local and national standards have been followed or need to be revised/improved”, while a review must be carried out in every case where “suicide is associated with DWP activity”.
      It also says that peer reviews might also be considered in cases involving “customers with additional needs/vulnerable customers”.
      As with previous FoI requests by DNS and many other disabled campaigners, DWP refused to answer some of the questions because it claimed that it planned to publish information itself “in due course”.
      It also said it had only begun to keep national records of internal reviews since February 2012, and that it was too expensive to find figures from local and district records showing how many such reviews there had been before that date.
      Another of the FoI responses stated that it was too expensive to produce information showing how many letters DWP has received from coroners expressing concern that a death may have been linked to the non-payment or withdrawal of a benefit.
      Bob Ellard, speaking on behalf of the steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said the disclosure that DWP had investigated 60 claimant deaths since 2012 was a “damming revelation”.
      He called for an urgent independent inquiry into the suicides and other deaths of benefit claimants.
      Ellard said: “We still don’t know enough about this as the DWP continue to use the small print in the FoI laws to prevent disclosure of information that is in the public interest.
      “We are calling for the deaths and suicides of benefit claimants to be urgently investigated by an independent authority.
      “We believe that these tragic deaths are as a direct result of [Conservative work and pensions secretary] Iain Duncan Smith’s policies and we want him to be called to account.”
      John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said that if 60 people had died in a major accident there would have been “hell to pay” and a “massive inquiry”.
      He said NHS figures showed a general rise in self-harm and suicide, which Black Triangle (BT) believes is connected with the effects of “cuts and austerity”.
      McArdle said he would like to know how many coroners had made recommendations to DWP in the wake of inquests into benefit-related suicides and other deaths.
      He said: “I think the public has a right to know whether coroners have made these recommendations to prevent similar tragedies happening again.”
      DNS reported last month how DWP had repeatedly contradicted its own position on benefit-related deaths.
      It originally stated, in an FoI response, that it did not hold any records on deaths linked to, or partially caused by, the withdrawal or non-payment of disability benefits.
      Mark Harper, the Conservative minister for disabled people, later told DNS that he did not “accept the premise” that DWP should collect and analyse reports of such deaths.
      But the Liberal Democrat DWP minister Steve Webb appeared to contradict Harper when he said the following week that when the department becomes aware of worrying cases “they do get looked at”.
      A DWP spokesman finally told DNS last month that it carries out reviews into individual cases, where it is “appropriate
      LikeLike · · Share

      • If it wasnt so serious I would laugh at their reply how many have lost dear ones ogr mates through this abuse yes I lost my life long mate who was made well again by atos waiting forhis jcp visit the ffollowing day but sadly he didn’t make this appointment at the jcp died the night before yep made whole by atos another two work mates found fit to work one was lucky he had the cancer charity fight his fight but sadly died a few weeks after winning his monies back died brain tumor then brian benefit stop came back to work didnt last long around six months in work died stomach cancer another made whole by this government agenda but die we do fighting against this abuse sadly more will die before we see the end of denial that the sick disabled just got better I hope to see this sad lot answer for their crimes has this is whot they do jeff3

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