May 11, 2021 10.15 am This story is over 14 months old

Universal Credit cases allegedly linked to Lincolnshire deaths

Labour pushing for inquiry

Campaigners are calling for an investigation into the deaths of at least 82 people in the last decade after their benefits were changed, including two men from North East Lincolnshire.

According to the BBC Shared Data Unit, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out more than 150 internal reviews after people claiming benefits died or came to serious harm since 2012, two of which from Greater Lincolnshire.

The details of case studies presented by the BBC were collected from various press reports.

Brian Bailey, 59, from Grimsby, was included in the study. Brian took his life in 2018 after alleged pressures of the Universal Credit (UC) benefit system.

Glenn Harris, 55, from Cleethorpes also committed suicide in 2015 after he was diagnosed with lupus. He had spoken out about worries over changes to his benefits.

Mr Bailey’s daughter Leann Bailey said UC became a “complete mess” and felt if changes are not made soon, other vulnerable people could find themselves in the same position as her father.

Mr Harris’ wife said her husband “was panicking about these benefit letters” up until his death.

The most recent case to hit the headlines was Philippa Day, who committed suicide after her payments were cut, with authorities found to have made 28 errors in managing her case.

Labour are campaigning for an independent inquiry into deaths allegedly linked to DWP activity.

Labour’s Debbie Abrahams MP said: “There needs to be an independent inquiry investigating why these deaths are happening and the scale of the deaths needs to be properly understood.”

In April and May 2019, there were 365,000 fresh UC claims, compared to 2.4 million new claims in April and May 2020, a seven-fold increase due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the BBC Shared Data Unit.

In North East Lincolnshire, from February 2020 to October 2020, the number of in-work Universal Credit claimants rose by 6%, the second highest Greater Lincolnshire authority after East Lindsey.