DAA News Network

UK: Benefit cuts: Staff briefed on suicide threats

Posted 10/5-11 at 17.39

In April, staff at Jobcentres received new guidance from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) ‘...to help them manage suicide and self-harm declarations from customers".

The senior staff member who sent the document to the Guardian newspaper said, "Absolutely nobody has ever seen this guidance before, leading staff to believe it has been put together ahead of the incapacity benefit and disability living allowance cuts."

He added, "We were a bit shocked. Are we preparing ourselves to be like the Samaritans? The fact that we've dealt with the public for so many years without such guidance has made people feel a bit fearful about what's coming."

The DWP said that the new guidelines were not related to any recent policy changes and had been in development since 2009. "This guidance is about supporting our staff and ensuring we can help our customers."

Julie Tipping, an appeals officer for Disability Solutions, says that in the last year, two of her clients have made "real attempts" at suicide after a decision was made that they were fit for work. Both were taken to hospital and subsequently sectioned.

Eleanor Lisney, of Disabled People Against Cuts, said that the thought of being moved on to jobseeker's allowance was like a sword hanging over the heads of disabled groups and she feared an increase in related suicides.




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