Information tribunal on deaths of IB/ESA claimants – next week

I have just sent out a ‘diary marker’ to press organisations, notifying them of the Information Tribunal that will be held in Cardiff next week.

Inevitably, there will be organisations I have missed – and I also want as much of the social media as possible to be aware of this and to be spreading the word. For that reason, I’m publishing the text of the press release below.

If you have a Facebook page, blog site, Twitter account or whatever, please feel free to use what follows and make sure people know that this is going on.

Diary marker

Tribunal – Law Courts, Cathays Park, Cardiff, April 23, 2014 at 10am

Incapacity benefits – deaths of claimants

A tribunal will decide whether the Department for Work and Pensions should be ordered to release its statistics on the number of people who have died while claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance, at a hearing next week.

The First-Tier Tribunal (formerly the Information Tribunal) will be hearing an appeal by Vox Political blogger Mike Sivier, against a decision by the Information Commissioner and the DWP to refuse a Freedom of Information request on the subject.

The DWP published an ‘ad hoc statistical release’ in July 2012, showing that 10,600 claimants died between January and November 2011. Of these, 3,500 – or 73 people every week – were either going through the assessment process or had been put in the work-related activity group, intended for people who were expected to recover within a year, when they died.

The revelation provoked outcry from people suffering from disabilities and long-term illnesses, and seems to have discouraged the DWP from continuing to publish the figures.

Mr Sivier made his request in June 2013, after learning that the DWP had refused previous requests. The department at first claimed there was no intention to release any further statistics, and the information would take a great deal of time and effort to gather and collate – this is not true. In fact, the DWP later admitted that it does hold the information, and could provide it within the cost limit.

The next excuse was that the Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, accepted that there was interest in the figures and was considering how to publish them. This was claimed in August 2013. Since no plan to publish these time-sensitive figures after nearly nine months, we must conclude that, like the previous claim, it is not true. The figures are time-sensitive because it is important that the system be improved to prevent unnecessary deaths. Delays in publication mean the figures are unlikely to be used in that way.

Seeing that the DWP had brushed aside privately-made requests, Mr Sivier ensured that his was public knowledge by writing an article about it in his blog (at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2013/06/25/dwp-refuses-to-provide-information-on-esaib-deaths-what-is-it-hiding/). As an afterthought, he included a line encouraging readers to follow his example, if they believed the issue was important, reasoning that the DWP may give more weight to it if it was known that there was general concern.

The DWP refused the request, claiming it was “vexatious” under section 14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Officers had visited the blog and concluded that the last line, “I strongly urge you to do the same. There is strength in numbers,” constituted a co-ordinated campaign of harassment against the department.

Mr Sivier believes this is nonsense and appealed to the Information Commissioner on this basis. But the Commissioner was persuaded by the DWP and upheld the decision, forcing Mr Sivier to take the matter to the tribunal.

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61 thoughts on “Information tribunal on deaths of IB/ESA claimants – next week

  1. PeeJay

    “……constituted a co-ordinated campaign of harassment against the department.” What about the DWP’s co-ordinated campaign of harassment against the sick and disabled?

    My best wishes to you for success in this important tribunal.

  2. Susan Mitton (@suemitton1)

    Mike I’ve get everything crossed for you! Good luck and very best wishes for success at the Tribunal! Keep up the fantastic work that you do for all of us! We will get there in the end thanks to special people like you!

  3. Pat Hamilton

    I have sent your posting about the Tribunal to my MP, Simon Kirby.
    Will be thinking of you two on Wednesday. Good luck, and keep fighting!
    Pat in Brighton.

      1. George Berger

        Good luck Mike. I have one idea, a cautionary note that.might be useless now but I think is interesting. The figure of 10600 should be treated carefully. Let’s suppose it is true, as I think it is. Still, there is no way that number alone can be divided into (1) the number of deaths causally attributable to the assessment regime, (2) those that might well have been avoided had that regime been more medically diagnostic, not so behavioural, and (3) those that were merely circumstantial in that time interval (e.g. by getting run over by a bus). Indeed, I doubt that the figure would have been released if it *were* so divisable. This might apply to any other figures you obtain, *even if* they are already subcategorised. For this reasoning would hold for any of the given categories of death.

      2. Nick

        indeed George

        it will take years for the breakdown of deaths to be structured correctly in to how and why so many died and the set of circumstances that led up to each death

        personally speaking because of so many deaths and still rising i cant see it possible we will ever know the true set of facts especially with the types of mp’s we see today as this is way above their league’ in fact it’s way above my league and that’s saying something

  4. trevor fieldhouse

    I have 3 fractured vertebrae at the base of my spine and need a new knee but was cured at the stroke of a pen, god bless you d.w.p. and thank you for stopping all my benefits, I only have my army pension to survive on…………………. any chance of fiddling me a few quid on m.p.’s expenses you thieving shower of bastards

    1. Neil Campbell

      If I may so bold..at least you have your army pension there are large numers of us who could never join the elitist military and don’t even get that pension… saying that i think how DWP treated you and others is shameful….might i suggest you get your military angle on this and start combining our fronts…..I’ve read the Art of War also 😛

      May this hand be an enemy to tyrants 🙂

  5. Pingback: Tribunal into DWP releasing statistics on the deaths of IB/ESA claimants « Havant Area Disability Acccess Group

  6. Nick

    My best wishes to you for success in this important tribunal from me as well mike

    it will be a landmark for justice in that to abuse to their deaths the sick and disabled will be held in the same ball park as Jews who are ‘ordered to register and list property’ in east Ukraine

    the words of john kerry United States Secretary of State

    the sick and disabled have always been abused not only in the uk but worldwide

    the main reason nothing has never been done to stop it is because the abuse is not countrywide for all people only the selected few mainly those that live alone or who are unable to fight their own corner THOSE THAT COULD BE PUSHED TO THEIR DEATH IF ENOUGH PRESSURE WERE TO BE PLACED UPON THEM BY THE DWP

    anyone at any time can become ill or disabled and if your vulnerable you could quite well end up dead as we have so often seen through negligence by the DWP

  7. jaypot2012

    The very best of luck Mike – I’ll be sitting on your shoulder in spirit 🙂
    We need those numbers so that the WCA can be proven to have no idea what they are doing with it and that people have died as a result of the WCA as well.
    IDS knows that if the figures get out then he, and his group of evil nazis, will be in deep sh!t. It would have to be the end for IDS and Fraud…

  8. jeffrey davies

    I hope justice wins that day but then with liars in power they do all they can to hide it away but to you I say thanks for trying jeff3

  9. dave jones

    they got blood on their hands no wonder theyre hiding the figures its a disgrace what they have dine to these unforunate people cant wait to vote them the arrogant swines

  10. Green Artist

    Best of luck, I thankfully do not have a life threatening condition, but despite having to sign on for more than two years, have found the practical support regarding disabilities is not there, as a disabled jobseeker. At one point it was intimated I was making things up till I offered to take my shoes off to show them my orthotics, but I had to say in a loud voice within earshot of many people, “you would not expect a dog to do something painful to get fed” when I complained about lack of provision, in being made to attend an 8 day course with work programme… and was verbally threatened with sanctions. Statistics need to include people who were denied ESA and had to go for JSA while health conditions continued.

  11. joe kane

    This is ace Mike. Thanks for all you are doing.

    Just to say that it shouldn’t be necessary to have to demand such statistics of the harms and deaths of patients given that British medical professionals are involved in the ESA regime.

    Fact, figures and statistics on the outcome on patients of their encounter with all British medical professionals should be kept as a matter of medical ethics of the first importance.

    The unethical pseudo-science of iatrogenic quackology of the biopsychosocial ESA regime is specifically designed to protect those with power and authority over vulnerable sick and disabled patients from the consequences of their professional conduct.

    The British medical regulatory and governing bodies such as the BMA, GMC, NMC and the CQC need to stop pretending that the conduct of medical professionals working for DWP-Atos is none of their business. It is, and they need to start putting their medical ethics and that of patients first before DWP policy and its anti-patient disablist neoliberal ideology.

  12. Jean Casale

    Mike, I am so pleased that after all your persistent calls for answers to your questions about this matter, and the ignorant replies to your FOIs, you will now get a legal response which will prove the calumny of IDS and his ilk! Well done and the best of luck!

    1. Mike Sivier

      Hold your horses – I don’t know what I’ll get back from the tribunal! They might uphold the previous decisions. The very least this does is keep the issue alive, though.

  13. Flutey

    The Haemophiliacs are still trying to obtain documents from what happened when they were given contaminated blood via the NHS over 30 years ago! I think trying to get the information from the DWP will probably be just as a long a fight that the Haemophiliacs are still having. Not trying be a pessimist. I really hope that you are successful for all the genuine people out there who are being persecuted it seems for being disabled.

    Where is transparency anyway!!!!!

  14. johndeee

    Break a leg, Mike! ‘Thinking of the future, if they won’t release the figures (personally, I have a feeling that they’re way too shocking for the perps to allow it) – could we not collectively publicly petition the coroners to flag suspicious suicides? Or, if not, could we get some volunteers to monitor the coroners’ courts? We mustn’t give up on this – people are still being euthanised. We have to keep on about this until it stops. Anyone got any other ideas? Wish me luck for my BT appeal on the 28th.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Best of luck with your BT appeal!
      Your ideas are worth considering, no matter what the outcome on Wednesday. Remember, far more people have been marked “fit for work” after work capability assessments and have not been monitored by the DWP since. Many of them have died but there is no official record of their numbers.

  15. Mo Stewart

    It is my understanding that Freud has now decided that Coroners should no longer link suicides to the DWP assessments. The government have silenced the national press as to what’s behind this travesty, the BBC News are compromised and do not report when thousands of people protest, the GP service is close to collapse due to DWP paperwork, Coroners it seems may no longer be independent of government influence, the DWP have stopped publishing this important and relevant info and sick and disabled people are living in a climate of fear. More and more published academic research is out there, in the public domain, exposing this tyranny whilst the nationals fail to acknowledge it. My next report should help.

    1. Nick

      good for you mo hopefully coroners will continue to tell the truth the police also know on what goes on as they often have to intervene and what with suicide notes and brown DWP envelopes it’s pretty clear reading between the lines on what’s going on

      if Freud has now decided that Coroners should no longer link suicides to the DWP assessments then he should be arrested for making that remark as a Coroners work is nothing to do with him

      a Coroner makes out a report in the circumstance that have led up to a person taking their life and if the evidence points the blame at the DWP then that’s the way it should be reported

      if i said something like that to a coroner like don’t mention the DWP i would be arrested that’s for sure

  16. Gen William Taggart

    Another date to note on the Calendar

    23rd April, 10:30am, First tier Tribunal, Reading.

    Points of Law facing the test in front of A Single Senior Judge and a Representative of the Secretary of State (should that representative choose to turn up, they have a history of not attending even when instructed by the Tribunal to do so). There will be no Doctor present on the bench.

    1. The Right of Supersession (Social Security Act 1998), none of those claimants migrated from Incapacity Benefit, Income support or Incapacity benefit paid as income support have had their existing claims amended/terminated via a supersession, it presented that this is in err of law.

    2. Data Protection Act and the sharing of information, the DWP falsely claim that in the capacity of the Work Capability Assessment, the likes of ATOS Healthcare where working with the remit of being a Data Processor, therefore exempted under Section 3 of the Social Security Act 1998. This is factually incorrect, as they “offer an ‘opinion’ which may alter a later decision or outcome” the information commissioner defines them as a Data Controller. As such the Section 3 exemption does not apply and the DWP have to obtain written/signed authority without Subterfuge prior to sharing claimant information in the capacity of the WCA. It is presented that not only is the DWP in err of law over this matter, that in fact it openly committed fraudulent actions to deceive claimants (Alleged Criminal Actions).

    3. The Declarations 4, 5 and 6, Page 18 of ESA50 questionnaire are not only in err of law,

    Declaration 4: Attempts to obtain DPA authority via subterfuge.
    Declaration 5: Attempts to obtain authority for retrospective processing of claims, allowing previously ‘proven’ to be false information to be used indefinitely to retrospectively remove any award of Social Security in the preceding 5 years.
    The authority is also used (on record) as a means to try and avoid the Right of Supersession (Social Security Act 1998).
    It can also be used to find that a claimant was not entitled to this or any other award and that said genuine award was made fraudulently, allowing for 3 year sanction for fraud.

    Declaration 6: Mostly relates to allowing the DWP to intimidate GP’s into not producing ‘fit notes’. As well as allowing a non medical diagnosis (Refusal to award ESA) to be added to a claimants GP records.

    Declaration 5, Has been list as challenged for this hearing under specific sections of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Given that at the previous 30 minute hearing the Judge declared herself as “not suitably qualified to hear this case”, then this unusual 1 hour hearing should be interesting.

    1. Gen William Taggart

      It is unlikely at this first tier level, but should the DWP be found in err of law, these are fundamental issues within the welfare reform , which could see the downfall of the Welfare Reform Acts.

      There is no easy fix, for this £75 Billion fraud by the DWP, the DPA issues, or being in direct breach of international law.

      They can’t just repeal the Right of Supersession, as to do so undermines the entire Social Security System and the HM & Courts Appeal Service.

      As you can imagine the coalition really loves me, 😉

    2. Mike Sivier

      Only one hour for this, and I get a whole day – the same day, in fact, for what should be an open-and-shut case about whether my FoI request was vexatious. I find that to be most odd.

      1. foggy

        Good luck with your tribunal Mike, the information really does need to be out in the public for the interest of the public. On the subject of deaths I’m just wondering if you’re aware of the BBC’s report in September 2002 on the rise of suicides under the Conservatives rule; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2263690.stm#suicide

        It makes one wonder what it would today.

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