Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Comment: Benefit cuts that result in a man’s death cannot be right
9:00am Friday 28th February 2014 in News
THE welfare reforms carried out by the Government have been called many things.
Radical, necessary, unnecessary – and either hitting the poor too hard or slashing the deficit to stabilise the economy.
Different people on different ends of the political spectrum have differing views – yet few people can say they have not been significant in one way or another.
The story of Mark Wood is one about the human cost of those changes once we look beyond the political disputes.
The 44-year-old was a vulnerable man with a number of issues – including phobias and behavioural problems.
According to his family, he was fiercely independent and did not like asking for help, although it seems he certainly needed it.
Months, though, after an assessment found that he was safe to work, he was dead – having lost a dramatic amount of weight.
And it is here where the story becomes deeply concerning.
His own GP told an inquest he should never have been declared fit to work.
Questions have to be answered about how this has happened.
These work assessments have meant thousands in the UK have had benefits cut.
It seems clear that Mr Wood should never have been declared fit to work.
His family will say that he may have been alive today if that hadn’t happened.
The Department for Work and Pensions and Atos, the firm that conducted the assessments that found Mr Wood fit for work, have expressed sympathy.
They are not saying that anything has gone wrong.
Given that Mr Wood is dead, it is clear that something has.