MP asks civil servant to check whether DWP to blame for benefit deaths – Disability News Service

Getting a bit rough, is it? Esther McVey dissembles desperately in an attempt not to answer questions posed by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee.

Getting a bit rough, is it? Esther McVey dissembles desperately in an attempt not to answer questions posed by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee.

A senior civil servant has been asked by an MP to examine whether any of the 49 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths concluded that the government had been partly to blame, writes John Pring for the Disability News Service.

The question came as Conservative employment minister Esther McVey was giving evidence to an inquiry into benefit sanctions policy.

Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, a member of the work and pensions committee that is conducting the inquiry, told McVey there was “an increasing… and a worrying number of deaths that are being associated with sanctions”.

Her questions came in the wake of a series of Freedom of Information Act requests by Disability News Service (DNS), which have revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out 60 – a figure later corrected by civil servants to 49 – internal “peer” reviews into benefit-related deaths since February 2012.

Abrahams asked McVey how many of the peer reviews concluded that the deaths had been associated with the use of benefit sanctions.

McVey said it was “wrong” of Abrahams to “politicise” and “inflame” the issue, and refused to answer her question.

We’ll be the judge of that. Was she saying the government has something to hide?

Let us all await the civil servant’s report with interest.

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  1. Florence February 7, 2015 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Well, pot & kettle & McVile & politicisation of the benefit system!!!!

    In some of the high profile cases when the DWP have always taken the line that their staff “did everything correctly and followed policy”. I do not expect anything else when or if these reports are released.

    We all know that it is the Tory political ideology that has created these rules & procedures and the corporate attitude within the DWP. As long as these rules are in place the decision maker is never wrong, and so the outcome (ie suffering and death) is never wrong,

    Those who created this system have been aware of the fatalities from the start, and their response was to make the system harsher, so they are fully culpable for those deaths, in the same way as those accused of corporate manslaughter are.

    As for those who simply “followed orders”………..

  2. boromoor February 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    There should be an independent public enquiry into this and those responsible charged. and by that I mean the top management of the DWP plus IDS & McVey. It may be the Jobcentre staff who make the incorrect benefit decisions & impose sanctions but their orders come from above and they often have little choice in the matter. I know that’s the defence of “I was only following orders” but that’s what most people would do if instructed to, the obedience experiments carried out by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s and other psychologists since, proves that.

    • Linda Donohoe February 7, 2015 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      They could strike via their union or resign for ethical reasons. No one should be made to follow bad and downright henious policy especially as it is the present government that are blaming the people for not having jobs, a situation that has been developing since 1979. I am lucky enough to be working. It is my children and grandchildren I fear for. Just one more point, as I now have to work till I am 67. I will now be paying into the system for another 7 years, instead of collecting 7 years pension, double money for the pension pot!! and I do not get to spend time looking after my grandchildren who must attend private child care. Work till we drop… or if we become ill and cannot work we are at the mercy of the system and classed as spongers. I am an advocate for Universal Basic Income.

    • ,arjorie arnold February 7, 2015 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      i agree with boromoor. as for esther mcvey (mouth on legs) she is good at repeating what shes being told to say. deep down she knows that sanctions have been responsible for many deaths and suicides. there definitely needs to be an enquiry into these deaths and lay the blame where it lies. i have never known a government less compassionate than this one. even margaret thatcher would not have sanctioned this and we thought she was bad.

  3. joanna may February 7, 2015 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    she is looking very rough and old, young looks are Fleeting common sense and brains are forever! Unfortunately for her she now has neither!!

  4. Chris February 7, 2015 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Do not hold your breath.

    This close to an election that can only produce a hung parliament with a minority government means the in-fighting between politicians is going to be nastiest in this too close too call election as far back as 1945.


    If Labour had been serious on this, they would have demanded the United Nations investigation into early deaths being caused by welfare reform had not been postponed until after the general election.


    Now we hear of the tragic suicide of a 66 year old pensioner man that teenagers desperately tried to save, in danger to their own lives, as he was on fire in his car, whilst other motorists just sat and watched and did nothing to help.

    A man who had quit work to look after his ill father and was a cemetery gardener.

    He had become £800 in debt to the council, because his Housing Benefit had halved, but the council failed to reduce charges to him accordingly.

    Newham council answerphone kept telling a old man with no computer skills to look up a website he could not access.

    He told the council he was depressed and suicidal, but no help was offered in person.

    The culture of that age group are aghast at being in debt and unable to pay and would never have even thought of asking his family for help.

    Esther McVey said there was no link between deaths and sanctioning in the inquiry on 49 cases where unemployment benefit had been withdrawn.

    Now an unnamed DWP spokesman to
    The Independent article February 7,
    ‘I have no savings. I’m not trying to live but to survive’,
    said there was no connection between Mr Burge’s death and the government’s welfare reform, saying the state spends £94 billion a year to provide a safety net to millions of unemployed or low income people.

    Yet HM Coroner after the Inquest into Mr Burge’s death, said he would be writing to the council asking them to change how they deal with people, because the council had told the man with no computer skills to access the internet about the debt.


    So pensioners are equally suffering welfare reform as all ages:

    – Bedroom Tax.
    – Loss of council tax benefit.
    – Workfare even when disabled / chronic sick.
    – Sanctions.
    – Loss of Housing Benefit.


    Pensions Minister Lib Dem Mr Steve Webb
    informed a pensioners’ website that
    no party in parliament
    voted against the pension bills
    since the Coalition took power in 2010.


    Another benefit is being lost to even current pensioners.

    Pension Credit, yet the government is asking people from Autumn for a top up to get more Pension Credit.

    Do not do waste your money, as you are liable to lose Pension Credit altogether in 2016.

    New Claimants lose Pension Credit (savings) and the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit is going to get all the constant re-assessment and complex conditionality that we see lose benefit again and again for all ages, no matter how old the pensioner.


    Disability benefit is going to be re-assessed even to disabled second world war veteran pensioners, and this has meant loss to all other ages, including the over 60s denied state pension payout since 2013. These would have had Life Awards.


    Do not defer your state pension as so much small print can lose you all the lost monthly payments and the promised lump sum, with no appeal.


    And the flat rate pension is proven now a con,
    from the right wing press (so far found Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail)
    telling people who do not rely on the state pension as sole food and fuel money in old age forever. Because the Pensions Minister is Lib Dem, who did not even get 400 votes in the last by-election.


    The Tories are considering if they win (even by default by being neck and neck with equal seats to Labour) reducing the state pension even to current claimants. Copying the rest of Europe.


    But the flat rate pension reduces the state pension to new claimants retiring on and from 6 April 2016.

    People are getting flat rate forecasts for retiring next year as low as £55 per year, with no top ups.

    I will get absolutely nothing, as I was mis-sold SERPs opt out, which now means all my NI record has been lost.


    Low waged people have no state pension for life, as they are below the lower entitlement level for National Insurance and Tax Credits.

    And without benefit, you do not accrue National Insurance credits towards a state pension.

    The flat rate pension changes state pension eligiblity from current 1 year NI record, to more than 10 years NI record.


    If there had been indeed a flat rate state pension then everyone would get:

    £113.10 per week basic state pension
    around £165 per week (the mis-selling of opting out of a full record history for
    State Earnings Related Pension Scheme that became the State Second Pension from 2002, that became available for your employer to opt you out of SERPs from
    6 April 1978).

    SERPS / S2P is abolished by the flat rate pension.

    So maybe now, blogs like yours can stop saying pensioners are better off than other ages under welfare reform.

    We are suffering just as much as others.

    40,000 will die this bitter cold winter.

    Not least because the raised retirement age can be as high as 73 under Universal Credit rules.

    Without benefit and without state pension payout, a person cannot access Cold Weather Payments / Winter Fuel Allowance.

    Even though Winter Fuel Allowance was cut by £100 to the most elderly, some years ago to current pensioners, and the £100 taken as a rise in expenses for MPs’ second home allowance to deal with energy price rises.

    When the poor have had the highes inflation rate on energy bills and food prices as a percentage of their meagre money, than any other income level.

    So Class War’s shouting Double Dole and Double Pension is right.

    Because in a just world pensoners would all be getting now £278 per week.

    A lot?

    Remember that the old cannot generate their own body heat and need to heat a room 24/7 to 70F.

    And that state pension would be spent in the town centre shops as it is the old who tend to shop on the high street, so creating youth jobs and helping small businesses to thrive.

    Labour could gain the grey vote big time with all this, but ignore the best voters altogether so far as I can see.

    Are you?

  5. Jeffery Davies February 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    Action t 4 just pop that into any search engine they all need to be shot but that wont happen they have caused
    so much misery that the wallow this left cannot be filled
    yet they talk about it ofcourse they all now rtu ids culling the stock but will we get justice I doubt not but one things
    for sure they killed they abused to help the banksters out funny realy isnt it when they laugh about it but the poor get to plug that whot was lost or was it lost has we haven’t those saving that the rich hard but justice isnt for the poor
    mores the pity jeff3

  6. nick February 7, 2015 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    The deaths run of the sick and disabled into the thousands and only a fool would come up with this 49 secret review. Any judge would know that figure to be false as it would take years to gather the 10’600 that were recorded by the government’s own figures let alone this 49 was 60 a couple of weeks ago

    what i can say is that Labour MP Debbie Abrahams,is on the case and will be for many years to come

  7. A-brightfuture February 7, 2015 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    Ms Mcvey!!! The nodding dog for the DWP. IDS hides behind her skirts and shoves her forward.
    Unfortunately for McVey, she is a victim of her own attention seeking ways, and will say anything to please the male dominated arena of the government halls. She has no sense of self respect regarding speaking the truth.

    She would be more at home staring in the new film 50 Shades Of Gray.
    She is used to being dominated by ego driven men.

  8. aturtle05 February 7, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Having taken an hour and a half to read through Ms McTeeVee’s evidence, trying to untangle the upside down and inside out replies she gave, I cannot see where half of her comments came from.

    I will admit she followed her party dictat of not giving the answer to the question asked and sliding the questioning into the better side of the argument.

    The fact that the majority of people on the Work Related Activity Group of Employment Support Allowance are there through less choice than those on Job Seekers Allowance. Yes, they are both unemployed, but through injury or disability, the WRAG claimant is less able to work. These are the people who want to work, but cannot. Therefore, in my humble opinion, are the group less likely to be sanctioned. Yet this is the group that Ms McTeeVee steered the committee toward.

    There is no proof that sanctions work, the people sanctioned either get work or have to make a new claim. While on sanction, they are not counted as unemployed, but because the number of unemployed has gone down the government use them to raise the number of employed.

    The next government, or it’s replacement, should look at fixing the system NOW and implement it in 3-4 years time, once it is fixed.

  9. Wayne Leon February 8, 2015 at 5:15 am - Reply

    Deaths WERE CAUSED DIRECTLY because of cuts to vital money that people needed. There is no getting away from that fact. In fact, I would go as far to say that every single one of those deaths of innocent Brtiish people, should be classed as corporate murder [NOT MANSLAUGHTER]!

    Therefore, every single Welfare Minister involved in the formation of policies which has directly caused the deaths of their own people [plus, all those who work for the DWP] should be dragged to court, kicking and screaming to face trial for the corporate murder of their own people!

  10. jimbob February 8, 2015 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Ugly scruffy lying scouse cow!

  11. Joseph Smith February 10, 2015 at 8:30 am - Reply

    Mc Vey is a fluent liar minus even the remotest item of honesty, she knows full well IDS is a mass murderer and it is long past the time he should be arrested and questioned with a view to a charge of corporate manslaughter. He himself is liar, fraudster, and cheat… neither he or Mcvey belong in public office.

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