SNP MP Ian Blackford took to the floor at Prime Minister’s Questions today to ask if she would scrap Work Capability Assessments, citing the shocking figure that almost one in two of women who take part in these assessments attempt suicide during or after the process.

Blackford asked if May would, in light of the appointment of MP Jackie Doyle-Price as the new Minister for Prevention of Suicide “looks at the impact of her Government’s own social security policies” and asks if she will “scrap the appalling Work Capability Assessment,” while also acknowledging that a series of secret enquiries within the Government revealed that “Conservative ministers were repeatedly warned of the policies shortcomings.”

The Prime Minister noted that the assessments were introduced by a previous government, saying: “It is important that we get these assessments right. I think it is right that we are encouraging people into the workplace and wanting to ensure that those people are in the workplace – who are able to be in the workplace – are given the support to enable them to do that.

“That is what we want to do, I think it is right that we maintain assessments.”

She added that the DWP look at the impact and quality of the assessments “on a regular basis,” but maintained that it was important to undertake them.

Research published by The Independent last year revealed that, per data taken from NHS surveys between the years 2007 and 2014, almost 50% of people who were receiving out of work disability benefits had attempted suicide – a rise from 21% in data taken from before the work capability assessments had begun.

The same data also showed that between 43% and 47% of female claimants had attempted suicide – almost 40% higher than the figure for the general population of 7%.

If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts or feelings, or would just like to talk to someone about your mental health, the following links will take you to the websites of SamaritansBreathing SpaceCALMMIND, and PAPYRUS. Please – don’t struggle alone.

Image: Flickr/UK Parliament

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