SUICIDES would increase as a result of government welfare and funding cuts, a cross-party bench peer and former social worker warned yesterday.
Baroness Meacher, who led the successful fight in the Lords against tax credit cuts, said that the number of people killing themselves woud rise as a direct consequence of squeezed benefits.
The ex-wife of late Labour MP Michael Meacher — who died last October — added that the number of suicides connected to welfare cuts and Department of Work and Pensions sanctions should be made public.
She told Russia Today’s Going Underground programme that many people commit suicide because not having enough money to live on while unemployed or in work is too much to bear.
Baroness Meacher said: “They can’t see a way out. So what I anticipate is that, as these cuts play themselves out, there will be an increase in people who cannot go on and who take their lives.”
She cited disabled people and carers as being vulnerable groups who are unable to work enough hours to fund adequate living standards.
“I think the government has something they need to think about and answer. What are you going to do about these very vulnerable people? And there are lots of them,” she said.
Around 3.5 million people have been taken to court for non-payment of rent, she said, which adds to rising debt and leads them to feel that they “have no other way out.”
She added: “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.”
A government spokeswoman said: “Suicide is a tragic and complex issue and it is misleading to link it solely to a person’s benefit claim.”