Freedom of Information tribunal on benefit deaths – April 23

Vox Political may seem a little quiet over the next 30 hours or so. This is because the site’s owner, Mike Sivier (that’s me), will be travelling to Cardiff to take the Information Commissioner and the Department for Work and Pensions to a tribunal.

The aim is to secure the release of mortality figures – death statistics – covering people who were claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance during 2012.

Figures for later dates were not part of the Freedom of Information request that forms the basis of this action (submitted back in June 2013, nearly a year ago), so it is unlikely that these will be forthcoming. The hope is that the tribunal will judge in favour of the information being released, ensuring that further requests cannot be blocked by the DWP.

The government’s claim is that a single-sentence, off-the-cuff line at the end of a Vox Political article about the FoI request constitutes a co-ordinated, protracted and obsessive campaign of harassment against the DWP, and for that reason the request is vexatious.

It is utterly ridiculous. It brings the DWP and the Freedom of Information Act into disrepute. Yet it is enough to prevent this valuable information from being published.

It is important to have the data in the public domain, as a yardstick by which the government’s so-called ‘reforms’ to the benefit system may be judged. Between January and November 2011, 73 deaths were recorded every week, just among people in the work-related activity group of ESA and those going through the assessment process. The government does not monitor the progress of people it has marked ‘fit for work’ and thrown off-benefit altogether, and this group is four times as large as the WRAG, meaning the death toll could be anything up to five times larger than we understand at the moment.

The government has claimed that it has been implementing changes designed to make ESA serve its claimants better. An increased death rate will disprove that. Of course, a lowered death rate would support the government’s position but, if this were the case, it is logical to expect the government to have publicised it widely without any prompting.

This is why tomorrow’s tribunal is important.

People are dying every day and nothing will be done to stop it unless the severity of the situation is made clear.

Let’s all hope we get the result we need.

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74 thoughts on “Freedom of Information tribunal on benefit deaths – April 23

  1. Mr.Angry

    Many of us wish you all the luck in the world and thank you for all your efforts and determination to resolve what should be considered a very reasonable request, but this disgusting shower are trying everything to cover up their back door genocide.

    Look forward to hearing from you soon Mike and I hope you get some media support on the day although as normal suspect the media will be gagged.

    Only wish I was well enough to be with you.

  2. kittysjones

    That we live in times when a government can withhold information about the impact of its policies on the vulnerable is extraordinary, and certainly reflects the act that we are no longer a democracy.

    We knew in 2012 that an average of 73 sick and disabled people were dying after they had their lifeline benefits withdrawn. But now the govt refuses to provide information about deaths since then. It’s my own belief that this refusal is because the truth will be horrifying and that even those that supported benefit cuts originally will raise their objections when they learn the truth. We cannot claim to be a civilised society when our govt policy is killing the vulnerable.

    Goodl uck Mike, and also, well done for taking it this far

  3. Pingback: Freedom of Information tribunal on benefit deaths – April 23 | kittysjones

  4. spirit

    Let’s hope they can’t find a way to wriggle out of it again; this is HUGE! Would also be good if they’re given a date by which they MUST release the requested figures (and publish the later ones in a timely manner). One more step towards seeing IDS in the dock for his crimes?

  5. HomerJS

    I think that we should also remember that it is not just those involved in the WCA, but is also about those on JSA who are sanctioned and end up dying, mainly by suicide.

  6. John Peters

    It is in the interests of the British public that we know all the facts and how many deaths there have been. I’d like to see those responsible up on charges

  7. Florence

    If I could be there outside to cheer you on, I would. I do hope that it all goes well, and that the outcome is on your side, on behalf of those who can’t defend themselves against this toxic regime.

    You’re an inspiration, and embody the great spirit of the grassroots, those who take on the fight because you know you have right on your side. Whatever the outcome, we will still consider this a massive achievement, and will still be cheering you on.

  8. vicmart009

    Hi Champ, Great news about your going to Cardiff. Maybe we could meet up later Wed afternoon or early that the evening . I shall be at Unite the Union H/Q for an IT course on the Thursday & Friday. I am myself a registered disabled pensioner longing to get into the battle for justice. I shall be staying @ the Angel Hotel. I do hope it’s possible for us to meet up.
    Martin WWW

    1. Mike Sivier

      Sorry to disappoint you, Martin, but I was already on my way out of the door by the time you sent the message, so I’ve only just read it. I would have been happy to have a chat, too.

  9. cnhay

    Wishing you well Mike this will be a uphill battle as the Tories are hell bent pushing this further as a expat living in the Netherlands this policy has come from here believe it or not with the only difference you are not completely removed from the benefit but can be partially removed or partially fit to work depending on your illness or disability but any way this is a disgusting system and even worse for any one with mental illness problems as they regarded as not being a health problem .
    ,

  10. rdevitt2012

    Thank you, from me and my son, for all the hard work you put in challenging those who would otherwise get away with terrible harm to vulnerable people like us. Good luck.

  11. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7)

    Good luck tomorrow, Mike!

    With regard to these new mortality statistics (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4DDIATl4FpJbjFWTVJLMC1XcGNFaEpTSldSNGQ5VjFmRXZn/edit?usp=sharing), I’ve asked the DWP to put the data in context, and adopt the same statistical format as this ad hoc release: (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/223050/incap_decd_recips_0712.pdf), so that it includes Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and Support Group (SG) deaths. In other words, includes Tables 2 and 3 for 2011/2012.

    I’ve been promised a FOI response by this Friday.

  12. A6er

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating and commented:
    Mike Sivier of Vox Political, going toe to toe with the Information Commissioner & the DWP to force them to finally release the number of deaths caused under the Coalition govn. Good on ya Mike! Fingers Crossed & Good Luck Tomorrow

  13. bob archer

    give em hell mike. let them know we are not taking no for an answer, and that the next step is european court of justice. god bless you in your fight mike, and good luck.

  14. Jeffrey Davies

    I would hope they come clean over it but to many have died and leaving this information out well it could lead to their farewell but hope you find hope in that we all hope you can achieve that goal Jeffrey

  15. Niki

    Good luck Mike! I hope you can show the tribunal how much interest and need there is for this information out there.

  16. Yosserian Hughes

    Good luck Mike……Give ’em what for, boyo – make ’em squirm ;-).

    And God bless you for your sterling efforts.

  17. Elle j morgan

    You shouldn’t have to though, this should be available for all to see, they should rename it to ‘the not so freedom of information act’ …
    So grateful to all the warriors that stand up for us, myself being a ‘lone parent, disabled scrounging pleb’ appreciates all that you do..

    Give them hell…

  18. Graham Hughes

    How can anything written on a blog totally independent of the DWP be construed as harassment of the DWP? If you were standing outside their offices shouting stuff through the windows or following their people around threatening them it would be harassment. Writing something on a website which they have to make a conscious decision to read and can ignore if they so wish can not be harassment under any accepted definition of the term

  19. Sue C

    I’m behind you all the way, Mike. May the ears of those who need to hear your voice be opened and may your voice be heard on behalf of all UK citizens with a conscience. Go for it – you have more support than you know.

  20. Stephen Bee

    Wishing you ALL the luck in the world tomorrow Mike. Try also to impugn IDS character as a liar , abuser or parliamentary procedure with his lies on the house floor and any latest info from the DWP Comittee reports…that ‘shows’ his complicity about publishing rather than because of any FOI requests which were requested in the Public Interest..and NOT to be vexatious…

    Not religious..but sending you good karma…sock it to them Mike…x

  21. frosty72

    Good luck for tomorrow Mike
    I hope you know how many of us will be with you in spirit. I want the figures to be released to show the truth for those poor people, at the same time I’m terrified of finding out how many we have actually lost.

  22. Jean Casale

    Mike, firstly I would like to thank you on behalf of all those people for whom you have been a standard bearer. You have stood your ground and informed us of many of this government’s dire policies, which have woefully denigrated those who need the most care and compassion. I salute you, for your unstinting perseverance in
    fighting for this tribunal, and I send my best wishes and am confident you will win.

  23. Jo Smith

    Didums, the poor DWP, with everybody ganging up on them!!
    May justice prevail and the truth be unveiled for all to see, good luck.

  24. esboella

    Best of luck mate, although I fear the tribunal will be just as corrupt as the DWP.
    A different branch of the same corrupt government. The fact they are not releasing the figures shows they have something to him. The freedom of information act if of course a joke when information such as this can be withheld.

  25. mey151

    needless to say many people are behind you on this one, just hoping the stars are in the right alignment for you

  26. Aide

    Those voices that we lost stand & shout out to you in support along with their families & friends. We wish you strength & resolve in this fight against evil, all the very best to you Sir

    1. Malcolm Burt

      I`ve only just seen this Mike,so you take the good wishes of all your followers with you.We wish you every success on a very important issue which should never have been withheld from the public domain.Many people are indebted to you for the work that you do.We salute & thank you sir.

  27. GEOFF REYNOLDS

    “ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS AN EVIL, HEINOUS KING, AND THIS KING THOUGHT HE WAS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ALL HIS SUBJECTS”

    THE KING IS NO LONGER SITTING PRETTY, SMUG ON HIS ORNAMENTAL THRONE HELD UP BY THE MULTINATIONALS FUELING HIS GREED………..

    YOU HAVE PUT THE EVIL KING IN A PRECARIOUS POSITION, IN A ROCKING CHAIR!

    KICK THE CHAIR FROM UNDER HIM MIKE…………….

    WITH YOU EVERY PRECIOUS SECOND, NOT MANY CONTINUED TO SMILE AT NUREMBERG……………………

  28. alan dransfield

    Mike I am sure you will be very interested to know that the PHSO is the latest PA to use the GIA/3037/2011 Dransfield case as a Court Authority to use section 14(1) vexatious exemption. Please see FS 50526132 dated 14th April 14. This case is STILL before the Court of Appeal,hence cannot be used as a Court Authority.

  29. ALAN M DRANSFIELD

    I bet my bottom dollar the PHSO wins the day with the ICO, who I am sure will get a green light on a section 14(1) vexatious decision.
    In fact, the PHSO used this vexatious exemption as recently as the 14th April 2014 on FS 50526132 in which they sucessfully relied on GIA/3037/2011 Dransfield v ICO & Devon County Council(DCC).
    This case is STILL before the Court of Appeal under C3/2013/1855 and is scheduled to be heard on the 6th June14.

    The PHSO is the latest ROGUE PA to jump on the VEXATIOUS Dransfield bandwaggon which has been used over 200 times since Judge Wikeley decision back in Jan 2013 which has not reached Statutory Court Precedence status yet.
    Best of luck Mike but I fear the decision has already been made in concert between the ICO/PHSO and the FTT Judges.

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