A new report shows a large rise in suicide attempts among people who claim the main out-of-work disability benefit. The research, reported by Disability News Service (DNS), draws on NHS data and covers the period between 2007 and 2014. It indicates that in 2007 – a year before the introduction of the much-criticised work capability assessment (WCA) used to determine who is awarded Employment Support Allowance – 21 per cent of incapacity benefit (IB) claimants (as the main out of work disability benefit was then called) told researchers they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives. The following year, IB began to be replaced by ESA, with eligibility tested by the WCA. By 2014 more than 43 per cent of claimants were saying they had attempted suicide.
DNS also reports that the ‘strongest evidence until now that there was a link between the WCA and an increase in mental distress came in November 2015, when public health experts from the Universities of Liverpool and Oxford showed in a study that, for every 10,000 IB claimants in England who were reassessed for ESA between 2010 and 2013, there were an additional six suicides, 2,700 cases of self-reported mental health problems, and an increase of more than 7,000 in the number of anti-depressants prescribed.’