Pushing people to the brink of suicide: the reality of benefit assessments : The Guardian


Department for Work and Pensions assessments are damaging people’s lives. And they don’t even provide the predicted savings.

‘Can you tell me why you haven’t killed yourself yet?” As she speaks to me from her home, Alice Kirby is not recounting abuse shouted at her in the street but the question put to her in a disability benefit assessment.

Kirby has a chronic illness and a neurological disorder, as well as mental health problems, and for the past two years has received the highest rate of PIP – personal independence payment. But after stating in a routine Department for Work and Pensions questionnaire that her health was deteriorating, last November she was told she had to be tested again.

It was then that the 25-year-old found herself repeatedly asked invasive questions about suicide: whether she’s ever felt like killing herself; if so, what method would she use; and…

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