Deaths by Welfare Podcast

In the summer of 2014, Disability News Service 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.

Episode resources:

  • Our draft Deaths by Welfare timeline (co-produced by John Pring): documenting 50 years of deaths linked to the welfare system, including key evidence in relation to the reviews carried out by the DWP into people’s deaths.
  • Disability News Service – the UK’s only news agency specialising in disability issues (run by John Pring).
  • Coverage of Philippa Day’s death and her family’s legal battle and campaigning (Disability News Service). 
  • Recording of a phone call made by Phillippa Day to the DWP, which was played at the Coroner’s inquiry into her death (and published by the Guardian).  We didn’t include this in the podcast because it is extremely distressing. If you choose to listen to this then please do so with much care, and in a place where you feel safe.

Video with BSL interpretation and live captions:

The Deaths by Welfare Podcast 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 Laws, and the ‘Right to Record’ action group, collected by Hannah Kemp-Welch.

BSL interpretation by Sumayya Si-Tayeb.

Produced by Healing Justice Ldn and edited by Hannah Kemp-Welch.