Welfare cuts will lead to rise in suicides, peer warns


Government welfare cuts will lead to an increase in suicides, a prominent crossbench peer has warned.

Baroness Meacher, who led the fight in the House of Lords against planned cuts to tax credits, has told RT's Going Underground programme that the number of people who take their own lives is likely to increase as cuts are rolled out.

She said: "They can't see a way out, and so what I anticipate is that there will be, over time as these cuts play themselves out, there will be an increase in the numbers of people who cannot go on and who take their lives.

"We will have an increase in suicide I think."

Baroness Meacher has previously called for statistics relating to the suicides of people facing benefit cuts to be published.

She said ministers need to think about how they will support vulnerable people who face a potential "horrible downward spiral".

"We do know that employment is good for people but what the Government doesn't take account of are all these people - the carers, the disabled and other groups - who cannot earn an adequate income for themselves, they can maybe only do 10 hours a week or whatever it is," she said.

"I think the Government has something they need to think about and need to answer.

"What are you going to do about these very vulnerable people, and there are lots of them.

"We now know that three and a half million people have been taken to court in one year for non-payment of rent and when they go to court they then get court costs added to their debt.

"You have this horrible downward spiral for these people who are anyway in trouble, quite likely either to be disabled or to have a disabled child."

The full interview will be broadcast on RT's Going Underground programme at 11.30am on Wednesday.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: "Suicide is a tragic and complex issue and it is misleading to link it solely to a person's benefit claim."