The authors of a report which found that the work capability assessment (WCA) is linked to almost 600 additional suicide have called on the DWP to release any data it holds on claimant mortality.
The peer reviewed report, written by respected academics from Oxford and Liverpool universities, found that in areas where incapacity benefit claimants were being reassessed for employment and support allowance, suicide rates, mental health conditions and antidepressant prescribing all increased.
The DWP have dismissed the report out-of-hand, claiming that it is ‘wholly misleading’. The department also argued that:
“In addition, it is concerning that they provide no evidence that the people with mental health problems highlighted in the report even underwent a Work Capability Assessment.”
However, the report’s authors have now responded in a letter to the Guardian, saying:
“Suicides and other mental health problems continue to increase in the UK. It is crucial that we understand why this has occurred and take action to reverse this situation. In order to facilitate this the DWP should make any relevant data they hold available to researchers, to allow further analysis of the health impact of the WCA.”
However, it seems extremely unlikely at this stage that the DWP will release any data whatsoever which might prove that their policies are harming sick and disabled people.