People protest against benefit sanctions on 9 March 2016. The Disability News Service first disclosed the DWP conducted the investigations after an FoI request in 2014 [Image: Vickie Flores/Rex Shutterstock].

People protest against benefit sanctions on 9 March 2016. The Disability News Service first disclosed the DWP conducted the investigations after an FoI request in 2014 [Image: Vickie Flores/Rex Shutterstock].

Don’t get me wrong – it is welcome that papers like The Guardian and The Independent are telling the wider world that the Department for Work and Pensions has lost a court battle to hide details of benefit claimant deaths.

This Writer just can’t understand why it took five days for the mainstream media to report it.

This Blog covered the story last Friday, based on the Disability News Service report last Thursday.

John Pring at DNS has been trying – since August 2014 – to obtain information contained in the 49 peer reviews, to find out what actions ministers have taken following deaths linked to the withdrawal or non-payment of benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance and to the discredited Work Capability Assessment.

The DNS report states: “DWP is now required to release most of the recommendations that were made by the authors of the reviews.

“This should allow disabled campaigners to hold DWP to account over whether it has implemented changes to its procedures to avoid such deaths happening again.

“The information DWP eventually releases should also provide a picture of the policies and procedures that were found to be flawed by its own internal reviews, and which have contributed to claimants’ deaths.”

But will the “lame stream” media report the release of this information promptly – or will we have to wait for another slow news day?

The Department for Work and Pensions may be forced to disclose details of secret investigations into the suicides and other deaths of benefit claimants, after a successful tribunal appeal.

Disability rights campaigners, mental health charities and the families of claimants who have killed themselves or died after cuts to benefits have argued that 49 DWP secret investigations or “peer reviews” into the deaths of claimants should be published. A peer review is triggered when a suicide or alleged suicide is “associated with a DWP activity”, according to its internal guidance.

The Disability News Service (DNS), which first disclosed that the DWP had conducted 60 reviews into the deaths of benefit claimants after a freedom of information request in 2014, won its appeal against the DWP’s subsequent refusal to publish any information from them and the decision of the information commissioner’s office (ICO), last September, to uphold the government’s refusal.

The DWP later corrected its own figures on the number of investigations “following the death of a customer” from 60 to 49. Forty of them were carried out after a suicide or alleged suicide.

Source: DWP may have to publish details of benefit claimant deaths | Society | The Guardian

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