Reposted from the Mirror on-line
What’s disgraceful Mr Smith is your refusal to publish these statistics and the only thing “frightening people” are YOUR harsh policies!
He’s fighting a legal battle to keep the figures secret – yet the Work and Pensions Secretary claims Labour MPs are just ‘frightening people’
Iain Duncan Smith has attacked a ‘disgraceful’ effort to reveal the number of people who died after being declared fit for work.
The Work and Pensions Secretary lashed out after coming under fire over the figures – which his department is waging a legal battle to keep secret.
More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition by ex-welfare advisor Maggie Zolobajluk, 63, calling for the figures to be made public.
But instead of addressing it he’s made a furious attack on Labour, two of whose MPs rounded on him in the Commons yesterday.
He accused the opposition of ‘going out every day scaring and frightening people’ and ‘deliberately misrepresenting’ the government’s fit-for-work schemes.
And he attacked Labour because the party introduced the work capability assessment in 2007, before the Coalition expanded it.
MP Marie Rimmer asked him: “May I ask again why the Government are refusing to publish – even though the Information Commissioner has instructed them to do so – the up-to-date statistics relating to the number of people who have died, having been found fit for work at their face-to-face assessment?”
Mr Duncan Smith replied: “I find it absurd that Opposition Members deliberately try to misrepresent what happens under such schemes.
“I remind the honourable lady it was her Government who introduced the employment support allowance and the work capability assessment, and at no stage did they say that that led to people committing suicide.
“People in that situation are often in a very delicate and difficult position, and I find it disgraceful that she is going round making such allegations.”
That made MP Debbie Abrahams thunder: “Does the Secretary of State think that he and his Department are above the law?
“Why does he refuse to publish the details of the number of people who have died within six weeks of their claims for incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance, including those who have been found fit for work?”
But Mr Duncan Smith said: “I find it unbelievable that she, the honourable lady and others have spent all their time trying to make allegations about people going about their work.
“It is a crying shame that Labour members want to go out every day scaring and frightening people. It is no wonder they lost the election.”
He also claimed his department ‘doesn’t collate the numbers’ at all – appearing to fly in the face of his own officials’ advice.
His civil servants have openly admitted they collect the data, have published it before, and are planning to publish more in the future. Read the full ruling here.
The Coalition’s welfare changes saw 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.
Petition founder Ms Zolobajluk said: “I could see what was happening in the community. It was so predictable. These cuts came in and left people feeling helpless.”
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.
DWP chiefs said they were preparing to publish the information in their own time, and it’d be unfair to rush them – but Information Commissioner Christopher Graham ruled they’d acted unreasonably.
Click here for the full petition.