Socialist Worker

Woman dies after benefits cut off - but Tory calls for new attacks

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2416

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith (Pic: DWP)


Annette Francis was one of thousands of people owed hundreds of pounds in benefits. 

This was due to the backlog in the move from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

She had depression and a personality disorder, but was deprived of the benefit for six months.

She took an overdose and died after writing a “cry for help” on her Facebook page, an inquest heard last week. 

She had specifically mentioned her struggle to survive on the breadline as a result of her benefit payments being delayed. 

Her family are said to be distraught including her 11 year old son Kieron.

The Tories’ attack on Employment Support Allowance was notorious because sick and disabled claimants died after harsh tests found them fit for work.

Now there are fears the DLA to PIP backlog could be going the same way.

That didn’t stop Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith calling for even harsher changes to the benefit system in a speech this week.

He wants to restrict benefits to the first two children in each family and move the welfare cap down to £18,000 a year. 

This is far too little for families to survive in London’s overheating housing market. 

Duncan Smith boasts that his attacks on the vulnerable helped boost the economy by making more people look for jobs. 

But this is nonsense—at no point in the recession was there a shortage of workers. 

What he has done is helped employers drive wages down.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves did attack Duncan Smith’s record. 

But she did so by playing up the issue of benefit fraud rather than standing up to the scapegoating of people in poverty.


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.