In Brief

Thousands of people have died after being found 'fit for work'

Families of the dead say the DWP 'knows it is killing people', but the government denies any link

Thousands of people in Britain have died shortly after being declared "fit to work" by the government, figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have revealed.

They show that at least 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 within two weeks of having their sickness and disability benefits withdrawn. However, cause of death was not recorded.

The government insists that there is no evidence of causal effect between benefits and mortality, but disability campaigners and  Labour leadership contenders are calling for an overhaul of the government's controversial assessment process, The Guardian reports.

Anita Bellows, a researcher with the campaign group Disabled People Against the Cuts, said the figures were complex and it would take time to fully analyse them, but that the group was "very worried" by the number of people who died so soon after being found fit for work. 

Jeremy Corbyn has joined calls for Iain Duncan Smith to stand down as for Work and Pensions Secretary over the deaths, according to The Independent.

"He should never have been appointed," said the frontrunner for the Labour leadership. "He should resign because these figures are so frightening and so disgusting."

The DWP argues that the numbers are in line with the mortality rate for the general working-age population and says it "continues to support millions of people on benefits with an £80bn working-age welfare safety net in place".

However, the learning disability charity Mencap said the figures appeared unusually high for people of working age who had so recently been declared fit, the BBC reports.

"The DWP know they are killing people," said Cathy Wood, whose brother Mark had Aspergers and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and died four months after being found "fit to work".

"There are some prices to be paid for these austerity cuts and it's important we know what those prices are and they are individual people who have died," she told the Daily Telegraph.

However, science writer Ben Goldacre said the numbers released by the DWP did not reveal whether people who had been found fit for work were more likely to die soon after the test, because the available data cannot be used to calculate a mortality rate.

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