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Errol Graham is the latest victim of a cruel system – we need a culture shift

1 30 65
04.02.2020

Here is what we know. Errol Graham weighed four and a half stone when he died. The 57-year-old, who had severe social anxiety, starved to death just months after officials stopped his disability benefits for missing his fit-for-work assessment. Bailiffs discovered his emaciated body as they knocked down his door to evict him. When he was found, his Nottingham flat had no gas or electricity. The only food in the kitchen was two tins of fish, four years out of date.

The harrowing details that emerged around Graham’s death are still fresh. But they are also aching in their familiarity. Over the past decade, a mix of cost-cutting and outsourcing has meant disabled people have lost their social security en masse, and with all too predictable consequences. Mark Wood, 44, who had a number of complex mental health conditions, starved to death in 2013 – four months after his sickness benefits were cut off. Jodey Whiting, 42, who had bipolar disorder and was on daily morphine, killed herself a fortnight after having her benefits stopped in 2016. David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier, died in 2014 of a severe lack of insulin; a benefit sanction meant the 59-year-old couldn’t afford to eat or put credit on his electricity card to keep the fridge for his insulin working.

Graham is not so much an aberration of the benefits system but the latest in a long line of its victims. They are Britain’s deja vu deaths, where a bare cupboard or unpaid electric metre are the warning signs of institutional neglect.

I’ve been reporting on these cases since the coalition government’s so-called “welfare reforms” first kicked........

© The Guardian