Double suicide draws further tragic attention to ‘fit for work’ test


The death of a young woman who killed herself after being found “fit for work” is the latest proof of the catastrophic consequences of the government’s cuts to disability benefits and services, say campaigners.

The mother of the young woman – from London – also killed herself, just 24 hours after hearing of her daughter’s death earlier this month.

Paula, a disabled activist from south London and a friend of the young woman, took part in a protest and lobby of parliament this week that had been organised by the grassroots campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

DPAC held a “paupers’ picnic” in the central lobby of the Houses of Parliament, to draw MPs’ attention to cuts that are leaving many disabled people without enough money to feed themselves properly.

Paula told Disability News Service that she had seen a letter left by the young woman, who was in her 20s and had learning difficulties and a mental health condition.

In the letter, the young woman said she had been found “fit for work”, and could not face a future without any money.

Her devastated family have stressed to Paula that they do not want their names passed to the media.

Paula said: “There are so many people now who have no money at all to live on. They have no way to pay their bills.”

Paula is due to be tested for her own “fitness for work” as part of the national programme to reassess about 1.5 million people claiming incapacity benefit, by checking their eligibility for the new employment and support allowance (ESA).

Disabled activists have repeatedly pointed to links between the fitness for work test and relapses, episodes of self-harm and even suicides and other deaths among those being assessed.

18 July 2012