5 episodes

The Deaths by Welfare Podcast is produced by Healing Justice Ldn and is part of our wider investigation into deaths linked to welfare reform and the violence of state austerity. The knowledge and leadership of disabled people fighting fatal reforms is central to this work, and this podcast aims to bring some of these voices together to understand how policies designed in the name of ‘welfare’ can create the conditions for people’s deaths.

Intro music and sound design by Rosemary Moss, with audio testimonies from Vince Law, and the 'Right to Record' action group, collected by Hannah Kemp.

Deaths by Welfare Podcast Deaths by Welfare Project

    • Society & Culture

The Deaths by Welfare Podcast is produced by Healing Justice Ldn and is part of our wider investigation into deaths linked to welfare reform and the violence of state austerity. The knowledge and leadership of disabled people fighting fatal reforms is central to this work, and this podcast aims to bring some of these voices together to understand how policies designed in the name of ‘welfare’ can create the conditions for people’s deaths.

Intro music and sound design by Rosemary Moss, with audio testimonies from Vince Law, and the 'Right to Record' action group, collected by Hannah Kemp.

    Bereaved by state violence: grief, solidarity and justice

    Bereaved by state violence: grief, solidarity and justice

    People’s deaths linked to the UK welfare system often aren’t named as deaths from state violence. Yet the State is the perpetrator - even as it kills people at a distance, through bureaucracy, slowly. Different forms of state violence also connect in so many people’s lives - the violence of the mental health system, the criminal legal system and policing, welfare, social services, immigration - all tangled together in a knot.

    In this episode we bring together families bereaved by state violence - specifically, the welfare system, mental health system, and policing. This episode is a conversation which opens space for families to talk about campaigning and grief, solidarity and care, different journeys of healing, and justice both within and beyond the State.

    Our hope is that this is just one conversation of many that provide a connecting thread for cross-movement solidarity against state violence - a tapestry that grows and solidifies our ecosystems of resistance.

    The episode is co-hosted by Imogen Day who lost her sister Philippa in 2019 after 28 mistakes were made by the DWP and their outsourced partner Capita. We speak with Joy Dove, whose daughter Jodey took her own life in 2017 after fighting for weeks with the DWP’s decision to stop her benefits; Ajibola Lewis, whose son Seni died in 2010 after being restrained by up to 11 policemen whilst he was seeking help as a voluntary patient at the Bethlem Royal Hospital, Croydon; Anna Susianta, whose 17 year old son, Komang Jack Susianta, was killed by police in 2015 whilst suffering a mental health crisis; and Alison Burton, the daughter in law of Errol Graham, who died from starvation after having his benefits cut off).

    For BSL interpretation, full transcript and further resources, please visit healingjusticeldn.org/resources/dwp-ep5

    Find our more about the Deaths by Welfare Project: healingjusticeldn.org/deaths-by-welfare-project/

    • 40 min
    Zero Points: The Work Capability Assessment

    Zero Points: The Work Capability Assessment

    Thousands of people have died at the hands of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), introduced in October 2008 to assess entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - benefit for people who are unable to work due to disability or ill-health. 

    In March 2023, the Government announced the intention to scrap the WCA. This episode was recorded before this announcement, but remains relevant, as the suggested replacements (if they come to pass) will by all indications continue to threaten disabled people's lives with increased use of sanctions and work coach discretion to decide people’s ‘fitness’ for work. By contrast, our guests offer perspectives rooted in lived experience, campaigning knowledge and research, as an invitation to collectively imagine and campaign for alternatives that are truly just. 

    This episode is a conversation between Rick Burgess and Ben Baumberg Geiger. Rick is the co-founder of the War on Welfare Petition and Manchester Disabled People Against Cuts, amongst many other things, and Ben is the co-lead of the Work, Welfare reform and Mental Health programme within the Centre for Society & Mental Health, at King's College London, and author of ‘A Better WCA is Possible’.



    For BSL interpretation, full transcript and further resources, please visit healingjusticeldn.org/resources/dwp-ep4

    • 32 min
    'Death of a Customer'

    'Death of a Customer'

    In the summer of 2014, Disability News Service and a number of disabled people’s anti-austerity campaigning groups began to question whether the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had a system for recording deaths linked to the benefits system. This began a long battle to learn more about government investigations, known as Internal Process Reviews, into what the DWP calls the ‘death of a customer’.

    In this episode, we are joined by John Pring from Disability News Service, and Imogen Day, whose sister Philippa (Pip) took her own life in 2019 after her disability benefits were stopped. Imogen has been at the forefront of campaigning with other bereaved families to demand a public inquiry into benefits-related deaths.

    Content warning: This episode includes a conversation with a family member of someone who died by suicide because of their experiences of the welfare system. There are no details of methods of suicide. Much of the episode is about government denial of accountability for people's deaths. Please listen, or not, in a way that feels right for you.

    For full transcript and support resources, please visit healingjusticeldn.org/resources/death-of-a-customer-ep3/

    • 34 min
    Benefit Sanctions as Weapons of State Violence

    Benefit Sanctions as Weapons of State Violence

    Both research and the testimonies of disabled activists and bereaved families have repeatedly shown the harms of benefits sanctions and how sanctions lead to people’s deaths. In this episode, we hear from a range of people with lived and learned experience about the complexity of sanctions, how they make life unliveable, and about routes to justice.   

    We are joined by "Ben", who shares his experience of being sanctioned; Jamie Redman,  who’s done research to understand the rationale behind sanctions from the perspective of frontline workers at job centres.  

    Content warning: attempted suicide, systemic racism. There are content warnings in the audio just before suicide is discussed, which advise about where to stop and start listening depending on what you feel able to listen to at this time. Please do what feels right for you.  

    For full transcript and support resources, visit healingjusticeldn.org/resources/dwp-ep2

    • 23 min
    Resisting DWP Violence

    Resisting DWP Violence

    Campaigners have been telling us for years that welfare reforms kill people. This is a story of disabled people and people impacted by the welfare system, joining forces with bereaved families to bear witness to and protest the deadly welfare policies enacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (the DWP). Through their collective genius and creativity, these campaigners push the boundaries of how we imagine and practice resistance, to re-envision justice both within and beyond the State.

    In this episode, we bring together Dolly Sen, Paula Peters and Ellen Clifford to talk about evidence, resistance and justice in their experiences of living and organising against the harms of welfare reform. The discussion was held after a screening of Dolly Sen’s new film “Broken Hearts for the DWP” - documenting a symbolic protest to remember those who have not survived the cuts.

    Content warning: suicide, criminalisation and incarceration

    • 30 min

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