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DWP ordered to give details of benefit-related deaths

(5 Posts)
blacksunday Fri 01-May-15 19:05:04

The Department for Work and Pensions has been ordered to disclose the number of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014.

The ruling comes from the Information Commissioner after an appeal by Vox Political‘s Mike Sivier.

But it seems likely to have been delayed – possibly for political reasons. If the number of deaths has been high, then it would generate a backlash against the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties that presided over them in the Coalition Government.

Mr Sivier said: “The decision notice was ready in February, but the Information Commissioner’s Office delayed its release for reasons that have not been given. Suppose a large number of deaths have taken place – I have heard suggestions that 60,000 people or more may have died as a result of government policy.

“It seems clear that the revelation of many deaths may turn voters away from supporting the Conservatives or Lib Dems – so it seems appropriate to question that delay. Will the election result be valid if the number of deaths is not known on May 7?”

The DWP had refused a Freedom of Information request on the grounds that the information would be published in the future (a section 22 exemption) – but the Information Commisioner found that officials had been wrong to do so.

The ruling means the DWP must disclose – within 35 calendar days of April 30 – the number of IB and ESA claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014, broken down into the following categories:

Those in the assessment phase,
Those who were found fit for work,
Those who were placed in the work-related activity group,
Those who were placed in the support group, and
Those who had an appeal pending.

In his ruling, the Commissioner states: “It appears … that the DWP has had reasonable time to prepare for publishing [the] information and that disclosure was not so novel or unusual given the previous requests and disclosures made.


fortyfide Sat 02-May-15 11:20:37

Interesting, but will Iain Duncan Smith allow the figures to be released this side of the election?

Roobix04 Sat 02-May-15 11:24:04

There's no way it's coming out before the election. Makes my blood boil!

GibberingFlapdoodle Sat 02-May-15 13:41:10

That's the black triangle's list for interest.

What really pisses me off is that they know damn well that this is causing serious hardship, leading to death while doing sweet f all to help people into work. There has been some damn good evidence produced at the 2nd stage of an inquiry into this. So WHY IN HELL is it still happening? WHY IN ANYTHING SANE's NAME isn't there a process to immediately suspend practices that evidence strongly suggests result in hardship and death while further investigations are completed??? By the time they've completed their investigations how many more people will have been affected by this?

I acknowledge the need for due process, but that should include some kind of ability to err on the side of caution where lives are at stake. The lack of it shows how much callous disregard there is for the lives of the poor among our 'esteemed' 'right honourable' leaders.

GibberingFlapdoodle Sat 02-May-15 14:07:57

Here's a link to the oral evidence before parliament dated 21 Jan. During which it was highlighted that the probability of sanctions causing serious hardship is written into the dwp's own manual ffs. They know, and have known for a long time.

One wonders if they took so long to implement the review suggesting mp pay rises...

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