Benefit Cuts Caused Disabled Yorkshire Man Nicholas Barker To Take His Life, Rules Coroner

(101 Posts)
ttosca Sat 20-Apr-13 16:59:25

A man took his own life after worrying about how he would survive after his benefits were stopped, a coroner has said.

Nicholas Barker, a former farm labourer from Yorkshire, was already paralysed down the left side of his body after a brain haemorrhage more than a decade before.

He was found dead in his garden with a shotgun at his feet on December 10 last year, the

The 51-year-old had been due to attend an appeal hearing a week later against a decision to stop his benefits, his ex-wife told the inquest.

Linda Barker said: “He was going for a drink and seemed happy but he wanted me to help him go through his benefit papers because he was worried that he was going to be sent back to work.

“I told him not to worry as he wasn’t able to work and I said I would come and see him.”

Mr Barker's doctor submitted a note saying he had spoken with the 51-year-old who had been worried after the assessment ruled he did not qualify for certain benefits.

He died from his head injuries, according to coroner Michael Oakley who added: “The main factor worrying him was that his benefits had been stopped and had he attended the appeal he may have been successful, but it did not get that far,” he said. “It is evident that the matter was concerning him greatly.”

In December Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, called on the Prime Minister do more for disabled people after receiving a suicide note in the post from a man who had taken his own life after finding out he was no longer entitled to employment and support allowance and disability benefits.

"Across the UK there are over 1,000 people who have died only months after being told to find work," he told the Commons, adding that he did not want to name the man in question because he wished to respect his family's privacy.

"This is 2012. We are supposed to be a civilised society. We should be looking after the disabled citizens."

Commenting on the death of Nicholas Barker, Mr Lavery told the Huffington Post UK: "This unfortunate case is not uncommon. The frightening reality is we will never know how many individuals have and will resort to this most drastic action.

"These people can not see any way forward at all, they live to exist, without luxury, often choosing between eating and heating. What type of civilised nation would allow sick and disabled people to feel that insecure that they choose to end their life. It's so sad it's gut-wrenching politics. It is a class issue."

Scotland's Evening Times reported earlier in March that thousands of people have inundated Glasgow's Citizen's Advice Bureau seeking help over government benefit changes, with many telling staff and volunteers they were contemplating suicide.

If you've been affected by the issues in this article, please call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.

www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/04/20/benefits_disabled-man-nicholas-barker-welfare-reform_n_3121688.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

JakeBullet Sun 21-Apr-13 10:41:11

There are not many people that black and white in real life hence my suspicion about this particular poster. I am not saying she/he is a troll but you can be sure that they are not this black and white in real life.
The posts made seem designed to inflame or upset others so can only think they are being made deliberately so from the safety of "hiding behind the computer screen". I sincerely doubt this person would say such things to a room full of people who might well lynch him or her.

edam Sun 21-Apr-13 12:58:17

Such a tragic story, poor man. I wonder if anyone involved in the decision to strip him of his benefits has heard about his death and feels at all responsible. Probably not.

What baffles me is people who can read about his death without feeling any compassion. I know they exist, am just bewildered by their thought processes.

BasilBabyEater Sun 21-Apr-13 15:45:49

What baffles me, is that people don't see that it could be them.

With almost any other group of "othered" people, you can comfort yourself that it could never be you. I'm not an immigrant or a refugee or a Muslim, so it's unlikely that the othering of these groups will ever personally affect me. But any of us could become disabled or unemployed at any time - all it takes is one car accident or one spell of ill-health or redundancy and that could be any of us on benefits for the rest of our lives. But these morons who whoop about the erosion of the welfare state are too stupid to see that one day, they could be one of these people they despise so much. Perhaps it's fear that makes them express such hate-filled sentiments.

Sunnywithshowers Sun 21-Apr-13 16:06:57

sad at the OP and angry at idiots who think the suffering of others is okay.

flatpackhamster Mon 22-Apr-13 07:27:29

HeySoulSister
over 1,000 people!!

Note that doesn't mean 'over 1,000 people have killed themselves.'

What it means is that they have died and there is no causal link between the death and the change in benefit status. But the implication is being made that there is although there's no evidence.

Dawndonna Mon 22-Apr-13 07:45:16

I bet you wouldn't have considered arguing the figure if it had been a Tory mp, flatpack
People are dying as a result of these changes. That's all there is to it, and a lack of (current) empirical evidence for the figures shouldn't make you feel better about the changes. But hey, doesn't affect you, does it.
hmm

cory Mon 22-Apr-13 08:42:15

The worrying thing is not that 1000 people have died- because obviously anybody could die in any given timespan- but that a fair few of those people have died either from suicide/stress or from the condition that their doctor had said would make them unable to work in the first place.

This brings the worrying question whether being forced back to work/losing their means of sustenance might actually have hastened their demise.

Or at the very least that forcing somebody who was dying to do a full work day may have been cruel and inhumane.

If somebody is diagnosed with heart disease and told by their doctor they must avoid stress and over-exertion, is made to go to work against their doctor's advice and then dies within days, then that is a rather different case from a fit healthy person suddenly falling ill and dying unexpectedly. If the first case involved a relative of yours, wouldn't you want to ask a few questions?

It is not the case that there is no causal link in all these cases: it is more that a full investigation has not been made, so we don't know in which cases there is a causal link and in which cases there isn't.

twofingerstoGideon Mon 22-Apr-13 09:50:07

Note that doesn't mean 'over 1,000 people have killed themselves.'

What it means is that they have died and there is no causal link between the death and the change in benefit status. But the implication is being made that there is although there's no evidence.

Credit us with some intelligence please, flatpack. Aren't you rather jumping to conclusions when you say 'there is no causal link...' The implication you are making is that the two are unrelated. Do you not mean 'there may not be a causal link in all cases...?'

Clearly if an MP has received a suicide note and Nicholas Barker also expressed worries about his benefits being reduced before he killed himself, there was a causal link in those cases. Nobody has claimed that 1000 people have committed suicide, just that 1000 people have died after being assessed as fit for work.

JakeBullet Mon 22-Apr-13 10:29:33

Thing is flatpack, the death itself might be unrelated to the benefit change. But don't you think it is rather worrying that 1000 people who have died were declared "fit for work" by ATOS shortly beforehand? Clearly they were not fit for work if their deaths were so imminent. Or maybe the sudden change and worry caused by being told "you are fit for work" when clearly they were not hastened their illness, or maybe they committed suicide.

Tbh it concerns me that 1000 people declared fit for work by ATOS have died in a short time frame afterwards. It should worry YOU too and it is certainly concerning the government who have been examining the figures for a while. Got a feeling they have recently produced a publication about it which I need to go and look at.

infamouspoo Mon 22-Apr-13 11:29:48

I was just reading this morning how the cuts to Social Care - the help people recieve in washing dressing/day care/etc will amount to 33% of the total by 2015. This is on top of the benefit cuts. Thats people left without help to help them eat.wash/get out of bed/get out of the house/toilet/respite for parents/the list goes on.
Why does this Govt hate vunerable and disabled people so much?

flatpackhamster Mon 22-Apr-13 11:43:26

twofingerstoGideon

Credit us with some intelligence please, flatpack.

Why would I do that, when I see the quality of thinking displayed here?

Aren't you rather jumping to conclusions when you say 'there is no causal link...' The implication you are making is that the two are unrelated. Do you not mean 'there may not be a causal link in all cases...?'

No, I'm explicitly saying 'there is no causal link in any case save one where this poor suicide victim states it.' There is no research to prove that this supposed 1,000 people were killed by The EVIL TORAYAS (tm), no statistical evidence to prove that there is a link.

Clearly if an MP has received a suicide note and Nicholas Barker also expressed worries about his benefits being reduced before he killed himself, there was a causal link in those cases. Nobody has claimed that 1000 people have committed suicide, just that 1000 people have died after being assessed as fit for work.

Why is that figure relevant? If 500,000 people are tested (for example) what's the statistical likelihood of 1,000 of them dying over that period of time? Do you know? I don't. But it's being cited as some kind of 'proof', when it isn't anything except a figure which is unproven and has no value or relevance.

All I'm asking for is a little less melodrama and a little more in the way of hard facts and evidence.

JakeBullet Mon 22-Apr-13 12:48:18

Flatpack 1000 people have no value and relevance shock I think I read that right. These are NOT just numbers, they are PEOPLE...in case you have missed that not insignificant fact!
And you should be asking "how on earth were they found fit for work"? That should be asked in EVERY SINGLE CASE where the person dies after being declared "fit for work". In some cases it might indeed be unexpected and not relevant but this cannot be claimed in every single case. What about people with cancer being found "fit for work", they may indeed die as a result of the cancer but the question about them being "fit for work" if clearly they were not still needs to be asked. I want those figures counted, I might not ever be in that situation but I bloody well want to know the support will be there if I need it and not eroded away by people not grasping that every single number represents a human being.

Tbh the only people suggesting these figures are irrelevant are those who wont have to rely on the State if they become ill...and that really shows utter contempt for people who DO struggle financially while ill.

I know somebody who knew this person. His death was an entirely preventable tragedy. The government have this man's blood on their hands.

twofingerstoGideon Mon 22-Apr-13 12:54:24

Why would I do that, when I see the quality of thinking displayed here?

PMSL. Presumably that applies to anyone that doesn't agree with your rather skewed way of thinking.

I think you've just shown yourself as incapable of reasonable and intelligent debate with that very sanctimonious remark.

flatpackhamster Mon 22-Apr-13 13:08:04

JakeBullet

Flatpack 1000 people have no value and relevance shock I think I read that right.

No, you didn't read it right at all.

Dawndonna Mon 22-Apr-13 13:11:16

Why would I do that, when I see the quality of thinking displayed here?

I regularly see the quality of your posts, too.

As for 1000 people, as has been said, there is a link. There is even a demonstrable link.

Tory paper, please note, 'government's own figures'
more of the same

JakeBullet Mon 22-Apr-13 15:06:51

Am relieved to know that I didn't read that correctly flatpack
My concerns regarding people being declared "fit for work" if they are not still stand.

What I really want to know is how many are taken off their current benefit and told to apply for JSA and how many are allocated to the Work Related Activity Group. Particularly if we are talking about those who subsequently die as a result of their illness. Those cases are very relevant and as a safeguard should be automatically looked at when they occur.

A friend of mine last year (very agoraphobic) was declared "fit for work" and told to apply for JSA. Now this friend is so paralysed by fear when she leaves the house that she is a mess emotionally and physically. In no way is she "fit for work" or even fit for a WRAG. It took a lot of reading and appealing to get this decision reversed (which it was).

BasilBabyEater Mon 22-Apr-13 17:55:42

Fuck's sake at people who describe concern about people dying when being told they're fit for work as "melodrama".

Hyperbolic language to describe absolutely valid outrage. No-one's allowed to be angry. hmm

Darkesteyes Mon 22-Apr-13 17:56:51

Ian Duncan Smith told bereaved 13 year old boy to go the Job Centre after the boys dad died a day after being found fit to work by Atos.

politicalscrapbook.net/2012/11/iain-duncan-smith-tells-bereaved-13-year-old-kieran-mcardle-to-go-to-the-jobcentre/

Darkesteyes Mon 22-Apr-13 18:06:10

30 years from now people will look back and wonder how on earth this could have been allowed to happen.
Society does not seem to heed warnings from history.
Hitler got rid of the disabled first after a successful propaganda campaign before moving on to the Jews.
Yet when posters here point out the similarities we get jumped on by some.
The documentary The Nazis A Warning From History (narrated by Samuel West) is a harrowing watch and right at the end of the final instalment he asks whether this could happen again? Hes right and its happening right now in front of us. But because of successful propaganda campaigns many people have become so desensitized and apathetic towards it that this "cleansing" has so far been successful. Its heartbreaking and our society doesnt seem to have any compassion anymore.

Vev Mon 22-Apr-13 20:19:08

I really, really can't understand why the disabled are hated by this government, it's shameful and should be on a par with how racism is treated. They've gone on so much that decent folk are now treating disabled people as scum. It's disgusting. Don't people realise how life can change in an instance?

This government have a lot of blood on their hands and should hang their heads in shame.

Dawndonna Tue 23-Apr-13 10:09:19

Because as far as this government (and some people here) they are just air wasting. Those that aren't are laying it on thick, are capable of working, at least according to Atos (and some people here) and are a bunch of benefit scrounging, lead swinging, scum.
Oh, and just because they are disabled, according to some on here, doesn't mean they should get benefits, because they're our partners/children etc. We should be supporting them, because it's our job to do so and nothing to do with the government. One of the people on here that promotes this view actually provides a service for the disabled.
Delightful.

Dawndonna Tue 23-Apr-13 17:06:55

Tory paper relevant link
Not a DM link.

Darkesteyes Tue 23-Apr-13 17:56:20

I saw that Dawn. Its all over Twitter.
With regards to yr post about the fact that one of the people here supporting disabilist views despite working in that sector doesnt surprise me unfortunately.
Ive seen mysogynistic classist comments from people on facebook about single mums from people working in the sector that supports them too. There are so many people working in jobs they shouldnt be.

Dawndonna Tue 23-Apr-13 18:19:56

It's frightening isn't it. But we're not allowed to say anything because people just shout 'Godwin's Law'.
hmm

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