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Attempted Suicides by Disability Benefit Claimants Double Post Fit-to-Work & PIP Sanctions

In the quest for welfare reform, governments often implement policies aimed at ensuring that disability benefits are allocated fairly and efficiently. However, the unintended consequences of such reforms can sometimes be dire. The introduction of fit-to-work assessments in several countries has been met with controversy, with critics arguing that these assessments place undue stress on vulnerable individuals. Recent data revealing a significant increase in attempted suicides among disability benefit claimants post-implementation of these assessments raises serious concerns about the human cost of such policies.

Rising Concerns:

The implementation of fit-to-work assessments, designed to evaluate claimants’ ability to work despite disabilities, has been associated with a disturbing trend. According to recent studies, attempted suicides among disability benefit claimants have more than doubled following the introduction of these assessments. This alarming statistic sheds light on the profound psychological impact these assessments can have on individuals already grappling with physical or mental health challenges.

The Human Toll:

Behind these statistics lie stories of immense suffering and despair. For many disability benefit claimants, the prospect of undergoing rigorous assessments to prove their eligibility for support adds a layer of stress to already challenging circumstances. The fear of losing vital financial assistance coupled with the anxiety of being deemed ‘fit to work’ despite debilitating conditions can exacerbate existing mental health issues and push individuals to the brink of desperation.

Moreover, the assessment process itself has come under scrutiny for its perceived insensitivity and lack of understanding of the complexities of various disabilities. Critics argue that the rigid criteria used in these assessments fail to adequately account for the fluctuating nature of many disabilities, leading to erroneous decisions that further compound claimants’ distress.

Policy Repercussions:

The revelation of a sharp increase in attempted suicides among disability benefit claimants post-fit-to-work assessment implementation underscores the urgent need for policy reassessment. While the aim of such assessments may be to ensure the efficient allocation of resources, policymakers must also consider the human cost of these measures.

There is a growing call for reforms that prioritize the well-being of individuals navigating the complexities of disability and illness. This includes adopting a more compassionate and holistic approach to assessing eligibility for benefits, one that takes into account the diverse needs and experiences of claimants.

Furthermore, adequate support systems must be put in place to assist individuals throughout the assessment process and beyond. This entails providing access to mental health services, financial counseling, and other forms of assistance aimed at alleviating the burden placed on disability benefit claimants.

A new analysis of NHS data spanning from 2007 to 2014 reveals a troubling trend: the proportion of individuals attempting to take their own lives has surged from 21 percent to 43 percent over the course of seven years. Citation: Attempted suicides by disability benefit claimants more than double after introduction of fit-to-work assessment | The Independent | The Independent

Since the introduction of fit-to-work assessments in 2008, attempted suicides among this vulnerable group have more than doubled. The analysis indicates that nearly half of the individuals surveyed who were receiving out-of-work disability benefits reported attempting suicide in 2014. This marks a significant increase from the 21 percent reported in the 2007 survey, conducted just before the controversial work capability assessment (WCA) test was implemented.

These findings underscore the profound impact of policy decisions on the mental health and well-being of disability benefit claimants. The doubling of attempted suicides within seven years paints a stark picture of the distress and desperation experienced by those navigating the fit-to-work assessment system. It highlights the urgent need for policymakers to reevaluate the effectiveness and humaneness of current welfare policies, ensuring that they prioritize the welfare of vulnerable individuals above all else.

Data extracted from NHS Digital’s Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) 2007, encompassing approximately 7,000 adults across Britain, highlights a stark reality: 21 percent of Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants disclosed having attempted suicide, in contrast to 6 percent of the general adult populace. Seven years later, the same survey paints an even grimmer picture, revealing that 43 percent of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants – with female ESA claimants reaching a staggering 47 percent – had made suicide attempts in their lifetimes, compared to a mere 7 percent within the general population.

In response to these alarming figures, Dr. Jay Watts, a consultant clinical psychologist and member of the campaigning Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy, conveyed profound concern to The Independent, stating,

“These results are staggering. It is difficult to overemphasize how large a jump in rates of attempted suicide this is. I cannot think of a greater jump in rates in any population. If the Government has any real interest in suicide prevention, benefits reform must be the immediate priority. The UN has condemned the government’s treatment of disabled people as contrary to their human rights.”

These statistics underscore the urgent need for comprehensive reform in welfare policies, with a paramount focus on safeguarding the mental well-being of disability benefit claimants. The significant disparity between the rates of attempted suicide among claimants and the general population highlights the profound impact of government policies on the most vulnerable members of society. Such revelations should serve as a clarion call for policymakers to prioritize human rights and mental health in their approach to benefits reform.


The doubling of attempted suicides among disability benefit claimants following the introduction of fit-to-work assessments serves as a stark reminder of the human consequences of policy decisions. As governments strive to reform welfare systems, they must prioritize the well-being of vulnerable individuals. This entails not only reevaluating the efficacy of current assessment processes but also implementing comprehensive support measures to ensure that those in need receive the assistance they require without being pushed to the brink of despair. Only then can we truly fulfill our moral obligation to care for the most vulnerable members of society?

The Editor of Disabled Entrepreneur Disability UK Online Journal, having experienced firsthand the government’s disregard for the rights and well-being of disabled individuals, is acutely aware of the systemic contempt embedded within governmental policies. Having endured disability discrimination, emotional distress, and even data breaches at the hands of those responsible for crafting and enforcing laws, the editor recognizes the urgent need for individuals to stand up for their rights and demand accountability. This firsthand experience has reinforced the belief that lives do indeed matter, contrary to the government’s apparent indifference. It serves as a rallying cry for action, urging people to challenge injustices and advocate for a more inclusive and equitable society where the rights and dignity of all individuals, especially those with disabilities, are respected and upheld.

Further Reading:

#dwp #pip #fitforwork #backtowork #universalcreditsanctions #universalcredit #sicknotes #disabilitydiscrimination #equalityact2010 #humanrights #emotionaldistress #knowyourrights #fightforyourrights #financialhardhip


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