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Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Latest Letter To DWP Ministers

Date: November 22, 2012 <>

cc:,,, "Dspd Enable" <>, "Jorge Araya" <>,,, "Sam Poling" <>,

Subject: Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of recipients 9 July 2012

DWP Ministers
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street
SW1H 9DA, England

Dear DWP Ministers,

I am a 56-year-old Disability Studies specialist from Montreal, Canada who has been reporting frequently for the past year to the United Nations on the crisis for the United Kingdom’s sick and disabled. Austerity measures, consisting of draconian welfare reforms and “sham” means-testing (Atos Healthcare U.K. and the Department for Work and Pensions) are ostensibly to blame for their plight—with disability hate crime and inflammatory media attacks factored into this mix.

I am writing in regard to the attached report, "Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of Recipients", published by your department on July 9, 2012 (download link: ).

What is strikingly apparent and of extreme concern to me is that the report does not provide reasons for any of the recorded deaths—especially the 10,600 ESA deaths that occurred between January, 2011 and November, 2011.  Were any of these recorded deaths the result of suicide and/or destitution?

Given the clear risk of destitution (see: ), I am  sharing with you the following correspondence.  Please note that Ian Davies of England is facilitating my Freedom of Information requests since I am a citizen and resident of Canada.

Please see this Ministry of Justice response:

Please see this letter by Ian Davies to his local coroner:

Below is the November 14, 2012 response of Mr. Singleton, HM coroner:

Dear Mr Davies,

I refer to your letter in relation to deaths of benefit claimants facing Work Capability Assessments.

The Coronial system at the present time does not involve the collating of such information, nor in looking for National trends. The role of the Coroner is case specific, consequently the information yo seek is not available.

It is, however, anticipated that the law in relation to death certification will be amended in 2014 to provide for Medical Examiners. It will then be the role of Medical Examiners to look at such matters. Clearly, if your concerns persist to that time then the Medical Examiner would be the person to whom such a request should be forwarded.

Yours sincerely

Michael J H Singleton
HM Coroner
Blackburn, Hyndburn & Ribble Valley

The above correspondence, coupled with the stark omission of explanatory causes for the thousands of deaths cited in the attached DWP report, plus the overriding risk of welfare destitution deaths, has left me seriously concerned about the current lack of a proper, sufficient, and robust Coronerial reporting system to both the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions.

I am therefore recommending, in the strongest of terms, that the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions ensure, as soon as possible, that there is proper and robust reporting by coroners so that suicides and/or destitution deaths of welfare recipients (and recipients who perished shortly after being stripped of their benefits) can be duly reported to both the DWP and the MOJ.  (There have even been cases of stress-related deaths, such as David Groves, who died from a heart attack the night before taking his work ­capability assessment. See: )

Furthermore, the next DWP report on IB and/or ESA recipient deaths must include specific reasons for recorded deaths.  Yes, it is quite likely that the majority of these deaths are the result of serious illnesses and disabling conditions. But surely,  if even only a few IB and/or ESA welfare recipients have committed suicide and/or have perished due to destitution, the government should be properly informed of these cases by coroners and the government committed to assume the responsibility of duly recording these causes of death in its reports. 

It is my belief that transparency is in the government's best interest, and would certainly help to allay some of the concerns of UK disability campaigners and United Nations officials—not to mention my own apprehensions.

I do require, and would appreciate, an e-mail response to my recommendations from the DWP.  My contact information is below my signature, and I have taken the liberty of providing my street address.

Thanking you in advance for your reply.

Best wishes.

Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)


  1. Brilliant work, Samuel!

    I salute you, all the way from Ontario! We should meet up for a beer in the not too distant future. Keep on sticking it to the man!

    Best regards,