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The DWP is continuing to use delaying tactics to block publication of ESA death statistics, whilst claiming that they intend to release them at an undisclosed future date, we can reveal. This is the same claim that the DWP have been making for well over a year and the refusal to publish the figures is now the subject of a further challenge by Benefits and Work.

In July 2012 the DWP released a set of statistics which campaigners argued showed that around 73 people were dying every week after being found fit for work or placed in the work-related activity group.

The figures covered the period up to November 2011. Blogger and activist Mike Sivier then made a Freedom of Information Act request for updated figures for 2012. This request was refused and Sivier finally managed to get the case before an information tribunal in May 2014.

However, the tribunal ruled against Sivier on the grounds that he had urged readers of his blog to submit similar requests for the information, saying that ‘There is strength in numbers’. This action, in the view of the tribunal, made the request a vexatious one which could properly refused.

Nonetheless, the tribunal also found that had Sivier not tried to get others involved, his request would have been reasonable and even adding that “We have considerable sympathy for the Appellant”.

Based on this decision, Benefits and Work made an application to the DWP for exactly the same information contained in the original request and drawing the DWP’s attention to the tribunal’s findings.

That request was made on 15 May 2014 and should have received a response by 23 June. In fact, we received absolutely no reply to the request or to a subsequent reminder to the DWP. We then asked for a review of the DWP’s apparent decision to refuse to respond to our request.

On 10 September we finally received two responses from the DWP, one to our review request and one to the original enquiry.

The DWP apologised for the delay in replying but offered absolutely no explanation for their repeated failure to do so.

In relation to the request for the information about ESA deaths the DWP pointed out that they published the total number of deaths in July of this year.

However, those figures do not give a breakdown of how many of the claimants were found fit for work or how many had been placed in the work-related activity group. The response went on to say that:

“We can confirm that we do intend to publish further statistics on this topic and these will answer a majority of your questions. As the statistics are intended for future publication this information is exempt from disclosure under the terms of Section 22 (Information intended for future publication) of the FOIA. “

However, the DWP added that “We do not have a definite publication date at this stage but we will pre-announce the agreed date here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/announcements

We have now requested a review of this decision and made it clear that if we do not receive a response within the statutory period we will immediately forward the correspondence to the Information Commissioner without further notice. We’ll keep readers posted.

Comments  

#4 Lone warrior 2014-10-08 15:07
Perhaps they are too afraid to let the statistics out.
Any death is a tragedy but when its a death can that can be avoided, its shameful. and the truth is, many could have been avoided.
Government policy is starving, and killing people, they are not going to give the statistics that prove that in a hurry.
Disability discrimination is at the heart of government policy, hidden under the guise of austerity.
The rich are back to the same wealth as before the crash, we the poor are to become starving homeless. or dead.
Its time for a union of disabled people , able to speak with one voice and say ENOUGH. We are no longer going to be scapegoats for the defects of the bankers. Tax their bonuses, not us, tax the global multinationals not us, then perhaps people will stop dying, trying to claim benefits, and then they can reveal the statistics, because if they have a heart and do it right the number will be zero.
Britain will then return to the caring nation it once was. Disabled people pay taxes, we pay utilities, we pay vat, we should not pay with our lives.
+2 #3 Paul Richards 2014-09-21 21:49
Good for you Jim & B&W - I wish you the best of luck - keep at them and eventually, surely to goodness, they will finally have to relent.
We look forward to seeing the eventual result of your requests.
+2 #2 Jim Allison 2014-09-19 20:08
Quote:
Wonder precisely WHAT they're afraid of?!
Unless they reveal the statistics soon, it will be yet another request from me under the Freedom of Information Act.

Watch this space !
+2 #1 JayneL Linney 2014-09-19 07:57
Wonder precisely WHAT they're afraid of?!

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