A disabled woman who lost her disability benefits because of a controversial reassessment process took her own life just two days after being told her appeal had failed.The body of Susan Margaret Roberts (pictured) was discovered by a care worker at her warden-assisted flat near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, surrounded by letters telling her that she would not be entitled to the government’s new personal independence payment (PIP).The long-term claimant of disability living allowance (DLA) had also placed a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) note by her side.There have been many cases involving deaths connected with claims for out-of-work disability benefits and the work capability assessment (WCA) system, but this appears to be the first time a death has been closely linked to someone losing their support in the move from DLA to PIP.An inquest into the 68-year-old’s death did not record a verdict of suicide, and no-one from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or its assessment contractor Atos gave evidence at the hearing last September.But her daughter, Hayley Storrow-Servranckx, is convinced that she would still be alive today if it was not for the flawed PIP assessment system.She told Disability News Service (DNS): “If it wasn’t for PIP, my mum would still be here.”DNS has collected more than 100 cases of PIP claimants who have raised serious concerns about their assessments, following a two-month investigation that suggested an institutional problem that spreads across DWP and the two private sector contractors – Atos and Capita – that assess PIP eligibility on its behalf.Susan Margaret Roberts died on 19 May last year, just two days after receiving a letter from a benefits tribunal telling her she had lost her appeal against the PIP decision.She had had to return her Motability vehicle several weeks earlier, as a result of the DWP decision to refuse her PIP claim.Storrow-Servranckx is determined to secure answers from DWP and Atos, the company that carried out her mother’s face-to-face PIP assessment.She said: “I want their apologies, and I want to know that they are going to try their hardest to change things, so it doesn’t happen to other people.“There needs to be a change. They are killing people. It can’t happen to other people.“It has just left so much destruction. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.”She added: “I don’t want them to get away with it. I want them to know that my mum existed.“I feel like they killed her. That’s how I feel.”Her mother had a number of long-term health conditions, including significant mental distress and “very severe” fibromyalgia – which meant she often slept all day and night, except for a few hours every evening – had had four major heart attacks, and had a serious bowel disorder that meant she needed daily colonic irrigation.She had previously received an indefinite award of DLA, at the higher rate of mobility and the lower rate of care.But after her PIP assessment last year, she was awarded just six points for the descriptors that are used to decide eligibility, which meant she was told she was ineligible for PIP, even though her impairments meant that she had to be visited by care workers every day.Storrow-Servranckx, who is herself disabled and receives PIP, said: “When they found her, she was surrounded by her PIP letters and her DNR letter.“Her PIP letters were never out. She always kept them filed away.”John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle Campaign, said the case was “utterly heart-rending”.He said: “The catalyst for the establishment of Black Triangle Campaign was the suicide of our friend Paul Reekie of Leith, Edinburgh, following a WCA carried out by Atos.“These circumstances are remarkably similar to what happened to Paul, only this time the suicide occurred following a PIP assessment carried out by the same firm. “Like the WCA, the PIP assessment is underpinned by the so-called ‘biopsychosocial model’ of disability created by the corrupt and predatory US medical insurance industry.“It was designed with the express purpose of denying disability claims so as to maximise profits: it is as far away from evidenced-based medicine as it is possible to get. It is also lethal. “If we truly lived in a civilised society operating under the principles of justice and the rule of law there would be an immediate police investigation into all the circumstances surrounding Susan’s death – leading to the prosecution of all concerned, including crown servants and ministers working out of the DWP.” He added: “We cannot even begin to imagine the suffering that this tragedy has inflicted upon Hayley.“There can be few things in this life more painful than losing a mum before their time, owing to the despicable actions of this government and it’s henchmen and women who operate this disability assessment regime. “What have we as a country become? We demand justice for Susan and for all victims of this barbaric and hateful system.”Storrow-Servranckx believes there are important questions over the way her mother’s PIP claim was dealt with.Among them are an apparent refusal to accept further evidence that she wanted to submit about her claim.On an envelope containing a letter her mother said she was not allowed to submit to DWP was written a scribbled note in her hand-writing, which said: “This is my evidence that the DWP would not send to them in response to their first letter of refusal of my claim.“It contains information that is crucial to my claim. Reconsideration ie the mandatory notice was made without this.“I would be very grateful if you could consider the contents yourselves.”Her family have not yet seen the assessment report that was completed by an Atos assessor and led to her being given only six “descriptor” points and therefore ineligible for PIP.A DWP spokeswoman said: “Suicide is a tragic and complex issue. Our thoughts are with Mrs Roberts’ family but there is no evidence to suggest any link between her death and her benefit claim.“She said neither DWP nor Atos believed they had made any mistakes in this case, and pointed out that the independent tribunal had “upheld the original decision”.Asked if DWP believed that the report written by the Atos assessor was fit for purpose, accurate and an honest representation of the impact of the claimant’s impairment, she said: “Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.“The independent tribunal upheld the original decision.”She said the department did not accept that Roberts was refused permission to submit further medical evidence.She said: “Claimants are always welcome to supply further medical evidence, but it is not guaranteed that it will change a PIP decision.“Mrs Roberts was informed of this during [a] phone call on 24 February.“We want to use the widest range of evidence when we assess PIP claims, so we encourage claimants to provide us with any relevant evidence or information they already have that explains how their condition affects them.”A spokeswoman for Motability said: “We were unaware of Miss Roberts’ death before your email and would like to offer our condolences to her family.“Although Motability works closely with the DWP on issues related to the Motability scheme, Motability has never had any role in determining who should receive DLA or PIP; that is solely the responsibility of the DWP.“As such, we are unable to comment on the assessment process.”
He joined teammate Mark Percival in bagging a brace as Justin Holbrook’s men put in a professional performance at the Halton Stadium.It gave Saints the Karalius Cup as well as keeping them out front at the top of the Betfred Super League.Saints got off to a great start when Ryan Morgan opened the scoring in the seventh minute – after Widnes couldn’t handle Ben Barba.The full back forced a drop out with a piece of improvisation on the last and then went right on the resultant set to find Morgan for his first of the season.Mark Percival then extended the lead with the easiest try he will ever score.A simple kick on the last into the corner bounced kindly in front of Danny Craven, but instead of the fullback taking it the chasing Percival picked his pocket.Danny Richardson making it 10-0 with the conversion.Scrambling defence stopped a certain Charly Runciman try on 16 minutes and two minutes later they halted another Widnes attack under their own sticks.Saints failed to heed the warnings though and after back-to-back sets Wellington Albert hit a fine line to get the hosts back into it.Thankfully, the momentum shift was short-lived as on 28 minutes, Richardson put a grubber into the in-goal and Percival touched down for his second.Richardson nailing a peach of a conversion from the touchline to give Saints a 16-6 half time lead.Saints’ task of securing the win was made much harder one minute into the second half as Luke Douglas saw yellow for a tackle on Danny Craven.But after Widnes had one chalked off on the following set, Saints went right down the other end and scored.Fages linked up with Ben Barba and the full back skipped through three defenders to put down over the line.Still a man short, Makinson then scored one of his specials.Roby’s short pass sent Zeb Taia through the middle only for him to be hauled down about 20 metres out.From there it went right, through hands, with Barba and Peyroux linking up to put the winger acrobatically over in the corner.His second was just a special with the finish matching the sheer class of the build up.On the last, Saints chanced their arm, Kyle Amor offloaded and the ball found its way to the winger off the back some wonderful linking play.It was a fine way to bring up his 100th try for the club.Saints could have had more points as the clock wound down but instead they produced an excellent goal-line stand to keep the Vikings out – as it has pretty much been all season.Match Summary:Vikings: Tries: Albert Goals: Gilmore (1 from 1)Saints: Tries: Morgan, Percival (2), Barba, Makinson (2) Goals: Richardson (2 from 6)Penalties Awarded: Vikings: 8 Saints: 9HT: 6-16 FT: 6-28REF: C KendallATT: 6706Teams:Vikings: 15. Danny Craven; 2. Stefan Marsh, 4. Charly Runciman, 24. Edward Chamberlain, 22. Ryan Ince; 33. Aaron Heremaia, 7. Thomas Gilmore; 10. Alex Gerrard, 21. Jordan Johnstone, 26. Edward Chapelhow, 16. Thomas Olbison, 17. Samuel Wilde, 28. Bradley Walker. Subs: 19. Greg Burke, 20. MacGraff Leuluai, 23. Danny Walker, 36. Wellington Albert.Saints: 23. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 6. Theo Fages, 18. Danny Richardson; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin. Subs: 7. Matty Smith, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles.
The prop was sent off after an incident with Niall Evalds in the 37th minute of the match.The Match Panel consider the incident to be a Grade C offence (High tackle – reckless – tried to tackle but reckless about outcome) – and that carries a two to three match suspension.Saints have accepted the notice.