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200,000 People Sign Petition For Inquiry Into Benefit Sanctions That "Killed" An Ex-Soldier

The petition has been widely shared across social media.

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According to the BBC, his £71.70 weekly allowance was stopped for a month in July because he missed an appointment for the government's Work Programme in May.

He was found dead in his flat on 20 July. He'd died from from diabetic ketoacidosis (caused by an acute lack of insulin).

The Guardian reported: "When Gill Thompson, his younger sister, discovered his body, she found his electricity had been cut off (meaning that the fridge where he kept his insulin was no longer working). There was very little left to eat in the flat – six teabags, an out-of-date tin of sardines and a can of tomato soup. His pay-as-you-go mobile phone had just 5p credit left on it and he had only £3.44 in his bank account. The autopsy notes reveal that his stomach was empty."

The BBC reported: "She added his electricity card had no credit, meaning the fridge where his insulin was kept chilled, was not working."

On an online petition for an inquiry, which has attracted 200,000 signatures, his sister writes:

David wasn't a "scrounger". He had worked for 29 years; 5 years in the Army – including two years in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, during the height of the troubles – 16 years with British Telecom, eight years with various other companies, and in recent years was a carer for our sick mother. When mum went into a home, David turned to the state for help, receiving benefits while he looked for work and taking unpaid work placements.

Clapson had been searching for work, and a pile of CVs were found by his body.

According to The Guardian: "The last time he spoke to his sister, a few days before he died, he told her he was waiting to hear back about an application he had made to the supermarket chain Lidl." On the petition, she writes: "He had been on work placements, passed his fork lift truck certificate and had been on a computer training course."


She adds:

Questions need to be asked of how Iain Duncan Smith is justifying benefit sanctions. What is the full impact of these sanctions? Are they working or simply putting the vulnerable further at risk?

I don't want anybody else to die like this.

According to The Guardian, Clapson was sent a letter explaining how to request hardship funds.

However, his sister found it unopened in his flat. "He was very bad at opening letters," she told the paper. "People in his situation are frightened of these letters. They are never good news."

The DWP has sent BuzzFeed a statement:

"Our sympathies are with the family of Mr Clapson.

“Decisions on sanctions aren’t taken lightly - there is a chain of processes we follow before a sanction comes into effect, including taking every opportunity to contact the claimant several times. People can also appeal if they disagree.

“Even when someone is sanctioned they can still get financial support through the hardship fund and we continue to spend around £94bn a year on working age benefits to ensure a safety net is in place.

"Mr Clapson did not appeal or ask for a reconsideration of the sanction or apply for a hardship payment.

"We were aware of Mr Clapson’s diabetes but at no time did he tell us he was having problems with his condition or medication."