Crippen reports on yet another death attributed to DWP policy

And still it goes on. Despite being accused of causing the deaths of disabled benefit claimants by awarding the assessment process to callous private sector contractors, the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) is faced yet again with the accusation that they were “directly implicated” in the death of another disabled person.

Philippa Day (27) appears to have killed herself after hearing hours earlier that her repeated pleas for her personal independence payment (PIP) assessment to be held in her own home had been rejected.

Philippa had agoraphobia, which is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong. Many people assume agoraphobia is simply a fear of open spaces, but it’s actually a more complex condition.

Her death is the latest in a long line of tragedies linked to the failings of DWP and its private sector contractors and follows years of repeated promises by the department to learn from the deaths of other disabled benefit claimants.

Her sister, Imogen, told Disability News Service that months before she died, Philippa’s benefits had been slashed when she tried to move from disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP), and she began to experience significant financial problems as her life spiralled out of control.

Mental health professionals who worked with her had told both DWP and its private sector assessment contractors Capita of the risk to her life caused by the problems with her PIP claim.

She had requested a home assessment in two PIP claim forms – one of which was lost by DWP – and in a phone call to Capita, with her community psychiatric nurse also twice calling Capita to say that she needed to be assessed at home because of her significant mental distress.

She appears to have taken her own life after receiving a letter telling her that she would not be allowed a home assessment and would instead have to visit a Capita assessment centre to test if she was eligible for PIP.

Shortly after her death, about £4,000 in PIP arrears was deposited by DWP in Philippa’s bank account without warning.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A young white male is sat at a desk and is wearing a hands free telephone unit comprising of boom mike and earphone. He is holding a PIP application. In front of him are two paper trays. The one marked ‘failed’ is full of PIP application forms whereas the one marked ‘passed’ is empty. On the wall behind him is a sign that reads ‘Capita assessment unit’. He is saying to the person on his phone: “Listen, I don’t care if she has died – if she’s not here for her appointment she loses her benefits!”

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