Media reports on Monday said Stephen Smith, from the northern English city of Liverpool, had died aged 64 a week earlier as friends and relatives blamed the government for wrongly designating him as “fit for work” and ineligible to receive benefits.
The death came nearly three months after pictures of an emaciated Smith in hospital circulated online and in the British newspapers with reports suggesting he had been denied benefits and authorities had asked him to seek a new job.
That came despite the fact that the severely ill man, who had experienced multiple debilitating diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoarthritis and an enlarged prostate, was not even capable of walking for 20 meters, Presstv reported.
Authorities had even required Smith to visit a job center once a week to be able to receive his weekly £67 jobseeker’s allowance.
Britain’s work and pension ministry reinstated the benefits after the case sparked a national outcry. However, the decision was not enough to save Smith who finally died last Monday.
The case was an acute example of how the UK government struggles to cut down benefits on many vulnerable claimants and force them to work, a policy many believe is meant to enable the ruling Conservative government to boast of its employment records.
The United Nations has confirmed that a flagship government welfare system, known as the Universal Credit, has fueled poverty in Britain, leaving at least a fifth of the population, around 14 million people, struggling for their lives.