Preventable Harm: Letter to Sir Iain Duncan Smith, MP 

9th November 2023 / United Kingdom
Preventable Harm: Letter to Sir Iain Duncan Smith, MP 





Mo Stewart Research

Fellow, Centre for Welfare Reform

                                                                             Research Lead, Preventable Harm Project                                                                               

The Preventable Harm Project  

9th November 2023


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Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith, MP                                                                               

House of Commons                                                                                             


SW1A 0AA    

Dear Sir Iain   

Re: The public health crisis created by UK social policy reforms

        Justice, Power and Resistance 6(2): 217-228 3   

Writing in my capacity as the research lead for the Preventable Harm Project1 (2009-19), I have been invited by some of your colleagues to offer access to the above link to a recently published paper. The research identifies the well-documented public health crisis created by the adoption of various social policy reforms in recent years, which you will be familiar with given your past service as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2010-16).  

Further to your reported recent comments in the national press advising that “the Government must get people languishing on sickness benefit back to work2 there is growing concern that your well-documented opinion of the chronically ill and disabled community who depend upon social security benefit for their financial and physical survival remains hostile; whilst it seems to disregard the volumes of published peer-reviewed research3-10 which identifies the public health crisis created by the reforms when using a fatally flawed assessment model to limit access to disability benefit, whilst disregarding the often fatal human consequences and the disturbing increase in prosecuted disability hate crimes11 during the Coalition administration’s term in office (2010-15). I suggest this is not a record to be proud of.

Furthermore, please be advised that there is no evidence of any significant fraud by the chronically ill and disabled community. Indeed, according to the government’s own published figures disability benefit fraud was only 0.5 per cent8, meaning that 99.5 per cent of claimants are not fraudulent.8 So, this brutal and relentless assault on the integrity of claimants of long-term disability benefit(s) was in reality the creation of social re-engineering in order to remove the past psychological security of the welfare state when aided by the tabloid press. It worked very well. 




Now we have a situation where chronically ill and disabled people live in fear of the DWP, which is shameful.12 I suggest that someone surviving with end-stage emphysema, for example, doesn’t wake up every day thinking about how much more benefit they can claim from the DWP. They are much more likely to wonder if this is to be their last day on earth, and I strongly suggest that this relentless persecution must end connected as it is to many thousands of suicides linked to DWP hostility and intimidation found in every written DWP communication with claimants, which began in 2010.           

Yours sincerely 

Mo Stewart 

Fellow, Centre for Welfare Reform 

Research Lead, Preventable Harm Project 

Copied to: The Rt Hon Sir Stephen Timms MP, Chair Work & Pensions Committee;  Dr Stephen Brien, Chair Social Security 

Advisory Committee; The Rt Hon Mel Stride MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; Liz Kendall MP, Shadow

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; Maria Caulfield MP, Minister for Mental Health; Daniel Greenberg CB, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; The Lord Shinkwin; The Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE; The Baroness Falkner of Margravine, Chair and CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission; The Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, President Conservative Disability Group



01 Mo Stewart Research | Cash Not Care

02 Stop sick people from languishing on benefits (

03 The public health crisis created by UK social policy reforms in: Justice, Power and Resistance Volume 6 Issue 2 (2023)

04 The Myth of “Broken Britain”: Welfare Reform and the Production of Ignorance – Slater – 2014

05 Blaming the victim, all over again: Waddell and Aylward’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability

06 ‘First, do no harm’: are disability assessments associated with adverse trends in mental health? A longitudinal ecological study | Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (    

07 ‘The language of shirkers and scroungers?’ Talking about illness,…: Ingenta Connect               

08 Fear of the Brown Envelope: Exploring Welfare Reform with Long‐Term Sickness Benefits Recipients – Garthwaite – 2014 – Social Policy & Administration – Wiley Online Library

09 EMERALD_JPMH_JPMH631534 224..230 (

10 Dismantling the social safety net: social security reforms, disability and mental health conditions – PubMed (

11 EXCLUSIVE: Hate crimes on disabled rise by 213% | UK | News | 

12 Psychological tyranny prescribed by the DWP: preventable harm is government policy – PMC (




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