A SCOTTISH poet who took his own life and left his benefit withdrawal notice as a “suicide note” was held up as a warning of the potential impact of controversial UK welfare reforms.
Holyrood’s welfare reform committee has heard that around 500,000 UK residents currently receiving disability living allowance (DLA) may not be eligible for the replacement personal independence payment (PIP).
Edinburgh GP Dr Stephen Carty said: “Paul Reekie was a local author and poet from Leith who took his own life following a work capability assessment.
“He didn’t leave a suicide note. He left on his desk two letters side by side. One was a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) informing him that his incapacity benefit had stopped and the other was from the council informing him that his housing benefit had stopped.”
Dr Carty said the DWP’s own figures estimate “that there will be half a million who were formerly claiming under DLA who will no longer be eligible for PIP”.
Dr David Bell, secretary of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Grampian local medical committee, said he has “very major concerns about people’s actual physical welfare in just surviving on this”.
The Scottish Government insists that these benefit changes are being forced on them by the UK government. However, despite their reservations, some charities have urged the Scottish Government to avoid delaying their implementation in case the hold-up has a knock-on effect on so-called “passported benefits”.
The DWP said Mr Reekie’s case did not relate to DLA or PIP but “was to do with another benefit altogether”.
A DWP spokesman said: “We are making the welfare system fairer to both claimants and the taxpayer. Some of those unable to work are now entitled to more financial support than under the previous system.”