Deaths by Welfare Podcast

Thousands of people have died at the hands of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), introduced in October 2008 to assess entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – benefit for people who are unable to work due to disability or ill-health. 

In March 2023, the Government announced the intention to scrap the WCA. This episode was recorded before this announcement, but remains relevant, as the suggested replacements (if they come to pass) will by all indications continue to threaten disabled people’s lives with increased use of sanctions and work coach discretion to decide people’s ‘fitness’ for work. By contrast, our guests offer perspectives rooted in lived experience, campaigning knowledge and research, as an invitation to collectively imagine and campaign for alternatives that are truly just. 

This episode is a conversation between Rick Burgess and Ben Baumberg Geiger. Rick is the co-founder of the War on Welfare Petition and Manchester Disabled People Against Cuts, amongst many other things, and Ben is the co-lead of the Work, Welfare reform and Mental Health programme within the Centre for Society & Mental Health, at King’s College London, and author of ‘A Better WCA is Possible’

Episode resources:

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.