Black Triangle is horrified by the following story. A few months ago we joined with our sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts in bringing all traffic from Charing Cross Road into Trafalgar Square to a standstill for three hours.

Sometimes we ask ourselves if the Government have slapped a ‘D’ notice on editors, or if they have collectively decided that welfare ‘reform’ is a good thing and have made a conscious decision not to report the full facts and our side of the argument.

We wonder. Any way you look at it, a conspiracy of silence exists.

The vote last week by the BMA’s Annual Representative Committee making the following motion BMA official policy could not have come a split second sooner.

While the motion was being debated, a disabled man had set himself on fire: 

That conference, in respect of work capability assessments (WCA) as performed
   by ATOS Healthcare, believes that the:

   (i) the inadequate computer based assessments that are used have little regard to the nature or complexity of the needs of long term sick and disabled persons

   (ii) calls on the BMA to demand that the WCA should end with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society.

iii) Calls on BMA to work with disability groups and political parties to change public policy

You can watch the debate here from 4mins 10 seconds in continuing to 15 minutes:



In response to Thursday’s tragic event in Birmingham, Black Triangle has written the following letter to The Guardian:

‘We write with regard to Shiv Malik’s and John Domokos’ report (‘Man sets himself on fire outside Birmingham Jobcentre, 29th July) in which a man who was clearly very unwell had been found fit for work following a Work Capability Assessment. He went on to attempt self-immolation and our thoughts go out to him and his friends and family. 


The DWP asserts that their ‘internal figures do not suggest a rise in such incidents in recent months’. 


There is no official reporting mechanism from either primary or secondary care, social work or the third sector for such events. 


Sir Michael Marmot, a world expert in public health epidemiology, last week stated that we are in ‘a public health emergency…if you look across Europe at unemployment rates, a 1% rise in unemployment in a country is associated with a 0.8% rise in suicides.’ 


According to the Campaign for a Fair Society 25% of the cuts are falling disproportionately on 3% of the population, namely sick and/or disabled people in receipt of state support. 


The true figure for self-harm and attempted suicide amongst benefit claimants maybe somewhat higher than the DWP statement would have us believe. 


The DWP’s statement lacks any credibility. The WCA is a harmful process and this is why the BMA have demanded that it end with immediate effect. Is is not time that the workforce who administer the WCA adopt a similar position?’

Dr. Stephen Carty, GP, Member and medical Adviser, Black Triangle Campaign

John McArdle, Founding Member, Black Triangle Campaign

Linda Burnip  Co-Founder Disabled People Against Cuts

Debbie Jolly Co-Founder Disabled People Against Cuts

Elinor Lisney Co-Founder Disabled People Against Cuts

Bill Scott, CEO Inclusion Scotland

Steven Preece, Social Welfare Union

Helen Martin, Journalist

Maria Rud

Ian McDougal, Senior Psychiatric Charge Nurse

No ifs, No Buts. No more!

The mass boycott of the WCA must begin immediately.


Powered by article titled “Man sets himself on fire outside Birmingham jobcentre” was written by Shiv Malik and John Domokos, for The Guardian on Friday 29th June 2012 19.53 Europe/London

A man has set himself on fire outside a Birmingham jobcentre after what reports suggest was an argument over benefit payments.

The 48-year-old unnamed man is understood to have doused himself in flammable liquid and tied himself to railings after a dispute inside the Jobcentre Plus in the Selly Oak area on Thursday.

Police arrived at the scene and extinguished the fire after the jobcentre was evacuated.

The man was later taken to hospital with burns to his legs.

A source with links to staff at the centre told the Guardian the man had been recognised by the staff as vulnerable with outstanding health issues but had recently been found fit to work precipitating a move from one benefit to another. This had caused payment delays.

An unnamed witness who spoke to the Birmingham Mail said: “The guy came into the jobcentre with petrol and made threats, so they evacuated the whole building. I think it was something to do with a payment he had not received.

“He tied himself to the railings and tore open the bottom of his trousers. You could smell the fumes from the liquid he used, but the police arrived by the time he had set himself alight and they managed to put him out quite quickly.

“He would have to have been very desperate to have done something like that. It’s shocking that somebody could have been driven to those depths.”

West Midlands police said the man was undergoing a mental health assessment.

A spokesman for the PCS union, which represents staff at the centre, said: “While we still don’t know the full circumstances, it’s tragic and very sad that anyone could be driven to such a desperate act.”

The incident follows an attempted suicide in a Liverpool benefits office earlier this year.

Earlier this month the Guardian revealed that senior Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) managers had sent a note to all staff warning that they take the “utmost care and sensitivity” when dealing with claimants, as a result of “difficult changes which some of our more vulnerable customers may take some time to accept and adjust to”.

The email added: “Very sadly, only last week a customer of DWP attempted suicide” – which it added was “said to be the result of receiving a letter” informing him that his sickness benefit would be cut off.

Last year disability campaigners warned ministers that flaws in work capability assessments which determine the level of support and benefits people are entitled to, would lead to some mentally ill people taking their own lives.

The Guardian understands that internal DWP figures do not suggest a rise in such incidents in recent months.

The DWP said that it was now a matter being investigated by the police. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

12 thoughts on “

  1. Jan Tchamani says:

    I’ve been suicidal myself many times. It is a miserable state to be in. It’s not because we’re inadequate or lacking in intelligence – I used to be in public service – I think it’s because the injustice that is perpetrated in the world, and that includes the UK, feels overwhelming at times – that and the lack of compassion towards those in despair. And we’re incapable of just thinking about ourselves: we think of others, and suffer with them too. The fact is, this Government doesn’t have a clue about what to do with those who are unable to conform to its idea of the ‘ideal citizen’ or ‘ideal employee’. Their minds are too small to accomodate the idea (and fact) that everyone is different, and some of us very different from the ‘norm’. What should be looked at is why, when the Norms are running the world, it doesn’t work. Maybe us not-Norms should be listened to more.

  2. owen meharry says:

    I live next to a bridge crossing the Clyde and in the past couple of months we have had at least 2 attempts at suicide and no one cares outside disability campaigns I am actively watching to see who else does and so far not even my own party seem to take this fight up. It’s not that when they need our help

  3. kasbah says:

    I have started asking people to write to their MP about all of this barbaric WCA stuff. Non-disabled people I have spoken with are at first disbelieving and then horrified at what is going on. There seems to be a blackout with news reporting (apart from The Guardian) on WCA and appallingly distressing events like that poor man who set fire to himself. we need to make them go viral. This Condem Gov. must be subject to the law like everyone else. Blood is on their hands- perhaps they relish it. They seem to think they are a race apart- maybe they are; Martians probably, although that is an insult to Martians.
    Cruel ruthless boot-boy posh thugs- lets kick their arses into touch.

    1. jeff lph says:

      i have been telling people this but they say have not heard anything on the news i have told who i can it seems as there is a total press blackout .. jeff ..

  4. kayleigh james says:

    really disgusting that we have seen virtually nothing of this reported in mainstream media

  5. Diddy-D says:

    It is now time to face the reality. I received a letter yesterday, saying my Income Support had was being stopped and I had no right of appeal, cos I did not complete and return an “A2 Review Form”. I never received this form. The “officials” at what used to be the DWP, told me that the form was sent out on June 13. I got a letter dated June 29 saying my benefit was stopped. I do not think this form even exists, and this is simply an act of revenge carried out against me by British State, and the fascist government that has come to power via a secretive coup. It is an act of barbarity, war and aggression. I AM NOW AT WAR WITH THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT. I will secure JUSTICE until such a time as I am subject to extermination or indefinite detention. They can keep their gold and silver. They have nothing that I want.

  6. kasbah says:

    Grayling, have gone onto the “yourable site” and wanted to thank you- it is an excellent resource.

    Diddy-D, my advocacy worker told me that the DWP are in a mess since the Welfare Reform Act came in a few months ago. I, like you, have not received letters which they claim to have sent, or have received many copies of the same letter, or the same basic letter with slightly different wording. I believe in the “terrier-factor” ie, don’t give up. Keep ringing them stating clearly what has happened until you get a climb-down. This has worked for me recently. I know it is exhausting and frustrating but it can work. Mentioning contacting your MP or an Advocacy Worker seems to help too. I use a business-like lawyer-style attitude on the phone to them and ALWAYS ask for their full name and make notes. It seems like the only way the buggers will listen Take care.

  7. Sue says:

    Earlier this month the Guardian revealed that senior Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) managers had sent a note to all staff warning that they take the “utmost care and sensitivity” when dealing with claimants, as a result of “difficult changes which some of our more vulnerable customers may take some time to accept and adjust to”.
    I find the above very interesting. Last week I telephoned the DWP regarding a further recall for an ATOS assessment I had received. I am in continual pain and have been under a great deal of stress and feeling suicidal, when I spoke to the DWP I began to cry and told them how I was feeling. I can honestly say that the response I received was of the utmost callousness and insensitivity.

  8. kasbah says:

    Sue, I know how awful it is to have worked all your life, have your contributions based ESA cut and be subject to ATOS assessments. As a chronic pain sufferer too my thoughts and heart go out to you. Chronic pain is something other people find had to understand. Re. DWP i think it is time for you to get tough on them.. Can you contact a disability organisation to find an advocacy worker who will act on your behalf perhaps? I adopt an anger at injustice fuelled very clinical business like manner with them and ask very straight questions and then feed back the answers to them (like a lawyer). I find it helps.
    I have had them let up on some things (not the ESA ATOS crap though). If they could see me in bed in my pyjamas while I am doing this! Take care, don’t let them grind you down lower and lower and NEVER give up. You are worth more than a million of them.

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