Reposted from the Mirror on line.
***warning – Ranty Post ***
As some of you will know, I have been helping Mike Sivier, who runs the Vox Political blog, with his legal challenge to get the DWP to issue the death statistics for those ruled ” fit for work” by the DWP’s flawed work capability assessment.
The DWP appeal beggars belief.
They say ….”It’s irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim”.
I say …IS IT!!!!! Well I think it’s fuck*ng irresponsible for the DWP and Idiot DungCan Shmidt to fuck*ing kill people with their policies.
And in any event, the Freedom of Information Act is “motive blind” so it matters not a fuck*ing jot what people want the information for …if the DWP have it (and they do) they should publish it!
‘FOIA is, however, applicant and motive blind. It is about disclosure to the public, and public interests. It is not about specified individuals or private interests.’ (extract from FoI guidance)
The government is refusing to release the figures despite a watchdog ruling. Now campaigners are asking – what has Iain Duncan Smith got to hide?
More than 200,000 people have now joined a petition demanding to know how many benefits claimants died after being found fit for work.
Now an online petition – started by an ex-benefits advisor who saw the effect of Tory cuts first-hand – has amassed vast support.
Founder Maggie Zolobajluk, 63, used the milestone to put fresh pressure on Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith – and ask what he has to hide.
She told Mirror Online: “Iain Duncan Smith should look and see 200,000 people are saying publish these figures.
“Don’t drag it out through the courts – let’s publish them and have some transparency and end the anguish people have had to go through.
“These people have horror stories. They need answers.”
The pensioner worked for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Sutton, Surrey, for 7 years while the Tories were introducing their welfare reforms.
The changes saw some people told to find work despite having chronic illnesses – some of whom died before getting their benefits back.
Tragic Mark Wood starved to death in David Cameron’s constituency four months after his benefits were cut – weighing just 5st 8lbs when he was found.
And ex-nurse Jacqueline Harris, 53, took her own life after she was ruled fit to workdespite having slipped disks in her back and severe pain.
Ms Zolobajluk said: “I’d have people who’d come in because they’d been thrown off the housing register because they weren’t deemed as overcrowded despite living in a house with nine adults.
“The pressure we were under as volunteers, the number of people coming who you could no longer help – it was awful.
“I got quite upset about it. If I see something I have to say what I feel. I don’t like bullies.”
There was anger in 2012 when figures showed 80 people had died within six weeks of being told they could move into a ‘work-related activity’ group.
But since then the Department for Work and Pensions has published no more figures on the topic, prompting a freedom of information battle.
A searing ruling by the Information Commissioner said chiefs had acted unreasonably after not publishing any figures for 3 years.
Instead of giving in, the DWP is fighting its own watchdog at a tribunal to get the decision overturned.
The request to release the figures was made under the Freedom of Information Act by campaigner Mike Sivier.
He asked how many people who died between November 2011 and May 2014 had been found ‘fit for work’, or told they could move towards getting work.
The DWP refused his request because chiefs said they were already preparing to publish the information in their own time, and it’d be unfair to rush them.
But Information Commissioner Christopher Graham ruled: “It is not reasonable for the DWP, having had enough time to extract the information and prepare internally for publication, to seek further time to provide the information.
“The previous statistics published were around 2 years old at the time of the request.”
Ms Zolobajluk’s petition asks the tribunal to refuse the request and force Iain Duncan Smith’s department to publish the data.
A DWP spokesman declined to say why chiefs are appealing the verdict.
She added: “It’s irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim”.
and the latest on this issue from the Green Party
Government must come clean over how many have died after being certified ‘fit for work’, says Green Party
17 June 2015
The Government must come clean over how many benefit claimants have died after being found ‘fit for work’, the Green Party’s Work and Pensions spokesperson Jonathan Bartley has said.
He also renewed his call for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reforms to be carried out.
It comes as a petition calling for the number of those who have died within six weeks of being certified ‘fit for work’ to be published, passed 150,000 signatures.
“Iain Duncan Smith should come clean about the full impact of benefit changes. He must end this cover up. The public need to know exactly how many have died after being certified ‘fit for work’ as part of his reforms. The government’s reluctance to tell the truth suggests it has something serious to hide.
“With austerity now in overdrive and a race to the bottom on welfare underway, the full picture is more important than ever.
“We now know that £15bn of cuts are to come in the welfare budget – more than was ever admitted by the government before the General Election. This will mean even greater hardship for the very people who need support the most.
“The Government must publish a cumulative impact assessment before any more cuts are made.”
Two days before the General Election, Iain Duncan Smith was challenged in a live television debate by Jonathan Bartley over the number of suicides of benefit claimants that his department had reviewed. Mr Duncan Smith denied that any reviews had taken place. It later emerged that over 40 reviews had taken place of the suicides of benefit claimants.
Campaigners have used the Freedom of Information Act to ask how many people who died between November 2011 and May 2014 had been found ‘fit for work’, or told they could move towards getting work.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has said that there is no reason not to publish the figures. But the Department for Work and Pensions has appealed to prevent the figures being released.
Claimants passed ‘fit for work’ are expected to start looking for a job or take part in training designed to prepare them for employment – and face the prospect of being sanctioned and losing benefits if they don’t comply.