The Department for Work and Pensions has been ordered to disclose the number of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014.
The ruling comes from the Information Commissioner after an appeal by Vox Political‘s Mike Sivier.
But it seems likely to have been delayed – possibly for political reasons. If the number of deaths has been high, then it would generate a backlash against the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties that presided over them in the Coalition Government.
Mr Sivier said: “The decision notice was ready in March, but the Information Commissioner’s Office delayed its release for reasons that have not been given. Suppose a large number of deaths have taken place – I have heard suggestions that 60,000 people or more may have died as a result of government policy.
“It seems clear that the revelation of many deaths may turn voters away from supporting the Conservatives or Lib Dems – so it seems appropriate to question that delay. Will the election result be valid if the number of deaths is not known on May 7?”
The DWP had refused a Freedom of Information request on the grounds that the information would be published in the future (a section 22 exemption) – but the Information Commisioner found that officials had been wrong to do so.
The ruling means the DWP must disclose – within 35 calendar days of April 30 – the number of IB and ESA claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014, broken down into the following categories:
- Those in the assessment phase,
- Those who were found fit for work,
- Those who were placed in the work-related activity group,
- Those who were placed in the support group, and
- Those who had an appeal pending.
In his ruling, the Commissioner states: “It appears … that the DWP has had reasonable time to prepare for publishing [the] information and that disclosure was not so novel or unusual given the previous requests and disclosures made.
“DWP have not supplied any detailed or convincing evidence about the time needed and what preparation would need to be undertaken during this time or what the specific impact of disclosure would be… The DWP has previously published similar information.
The decision notice continued: “It is not reasonable for the DWP, having had enough time to extract the information and prepare internally for publication, to seek further time to provide the information requested.
“The Commissioner also finds that delaying publication is not reasonable in light of the requests DWP have received from the public and the fact that the previous statistics published were around two years old at the time of the request.”
Mr Sivier said he had first asked for information on benefit-related deaths in the summer of 2013: “It was almost a year after the DWP had published an ‘ad hoc’ report entitled Incapacity Benefits (Deaths of Claimants).
“That document stated that 10,600 people had died between January and November 2011, while claiming benefits that should have helped them survive with a reasonable quality of life. Some of those people may have died because of their conditions but evidence that has become available since suggests that many died due to the stress of constant reassessment by an unsympathetic government department that was determined to clear as many people off its books as possible, no matter what the health risks might be.”
He said: “I knew that other FOI requests had been made in November 2012 – a year after the last date covered in the ‘ad hoc’ report – but they had been refused. When I made my request in June 2013, I publicised it via my website, Vox Political, and asked for others to submit a similar request in the hope that weight of numbers might sway the DWP. This was a mistake as the department was able to use FOI rules to dismiss my request as being ‘vexatious’.
“I made a new request last May, and the DWP illegally delayed its response by several months. When ministers finally denied me the information, claiming they would be publishing it at an unspecified date in the future, I checked the rules and found that they were wrong. That is why I appealed to the Information Commissioner – and I am delighted that the Commissioner has upheld my appeal.”
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the DWP may appeal to the Information Rights Tribunal, but Mr Sivier said he doubted any such appeal would succeed: “I took my first request to a tribunal and, although the decision was upheld, the judges stated that they were extremely sympathetic to my cause.
“They said they did not see any reason why another FOI request, properly made out, should not be successful. That is why I tried again.”
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Brilliant news now let’s push for Iain Duncan Smith to be in court!!
yes. Is there a petition yet?
I started a petition over a year ago ‘Stop further harassment of ESA claimants’ https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/ian-duncan-smith-targets-the-sick-vulnerable
Please sign it & pass on to others. Thank you
I’m tempted to say something about murdering IDS any time I see his name mentioned, but I’ll try to remain calm. Anyone on benefits knows what a nightmare it is, how the process of claiming, qualifying etc adds to the problems you’ve already got that have put you in the position to be claiming in the first place.Well done Mike for chronicling all this, I just wish more people were aware of the reality of the situation rather than falling for the way it’s portrayed in the media.
I’m sure when Project T4 was enacted there was a similar level of secrecy.
Trying to break through the echo chamber must of been equally as despairing?
I feel that the worse may be behind us and now they can’t question us. We will have it in writing and every hoop they’ve made us jump through recorded.
How is it portrayed in the media? All I see is that the current system is a complete and utter failure that relies on punitive rather than encouraging measures. It is not fit for purpose, too many people are suffering both physically and mentally due to the new regime.
Thankfully I am now in work but during my time on ESA I was constantly made to feel like a piece of filth, was always on edge when I went to the job centre and was sanctioned for not ticking enough boxes.
The system needs to change!
Brilliant work Mike, l myself am a carer for my disabled husband and we are worried sick to the point that l now suffer with severe depression & severe anxiety from all the stress this has put on us both, living with the fear of losing vital benefits. I have cried so much at all these heartbreaking stories of poor innocent people dying for such needless reasons and the fact of how IDS just does not care in the slightest. I know it’s been a tough fight for you to do this so well done and thank you so so much for doing all you possibly can to try and get justice for all the disabled people out there.
Susan I am in your position too & I feel exactly the same. Even just this past month my husband’s DLA is being changed to PIP & now the form has been sent we are worried sick he won’t get the new PIP. And what next? His ESA will probably be up for review. We shouldn’t have to live like this.
Thank you Rachael l have always felt so alone with this, my hubby is so down with the worry that the process to get PIP will be so much harder. I feel so angry in the fact that l gave up my working life to care for my husband and have been doing so for over 20 years now and we have always struggled and now for someone to come along and say you are not entitled anymore, well it is just unbelievable, this government has so much to answer for and l just pray they have to answer for what they have done and are doing.
Well done Mike, and thanks for persevering.
fantastic work. Admirable that you stuck it out. Disgraceful that they still try to wriggle away.
Mike, this is absolutely amazing. You perseverance has paid off, proving that we should never give up! Well done, and thanks.
Huge Congratulations Mike. I think on the basis of info above..it would be fair to extrapolate from the numbers upto 2011…that 60,000+ is a good estimate to publish in the public arena b4 the election…or at least tease the press with all the info and hope one (maybe the Mirror?) will take up the info..:-) Major Thanks once again!
Well Done Mike for keeping the pressure on, just a shame this information could not be released a lot sooner which of course is no fault of your own.
I hope now that there is public outcry and make any further cuts more difficult for them should they get that slim chance of another term.
I look forward to reading the FOI when released.
Thank you for your tenacity in this ongoing fight 😉
Thank you MIke for being such a very important champion for honesty and decency.
Finally your persistence has won out, excellent news just sad that it won’t be out before the election x
I doubt that it’s an accident that the figures are delayed until after the election. Extrapolating the figures we do have from between January and November 2011 pro rata gives a figure of 64,000, but we all know the regime got tougher – the changes from the WRA2012, the increases in sanctions, just the attrition of years of struggle to get subsistance benefits when also ill and struggling would imply a figure double that would be nearer the truth…
Well done, Mike, for finally screwing the right decision out of the system.
Superb work Mike.
When do we find out Mike?
I would expect the DWP to leave it until the last possible moment – so, June 4. That’s if they don’t appeal against the decision, of course.
They could be forced to do so before the election IF it can get some publicity.
Well done Mike ,your hard work will yield results —-This news and the history of this FOI request needs to be shared now & loud as possible . Looking forward to your hardest hitting piece “ready to share” asap
Congratulations, Mike, and thank you. Your tireless efforts and perseverance are most appreciated.
Well done mate and thank you from the bottom of MY heart. Well done you!!!!
Congratulations Mike! They probably will still delay publication until after the election. This also proves that the DWP has been “Brutalised” by Iain Duncan Smith’s evil and bureaucratic plans. Interesting to note that a man with similar sociopathic characteristics died 70 years ago yesterday at his own hand, in a dingy bunker deep under Berlin.
Mike, this is huge. Words can’t tell you how much this means to those of us who sit on the edge of the precipice. Your strength and determination is amazing.
The taste of victory is sweet enough to overcome the bitterness left by the obviously political delay in getting these figures out. But if the Danny Alexander release of figures about CB and CTC and other benefits can be used to challenge the Tories, so that they are exposed as dissembling, then the same tactic can be used to challenge the Tories in the campaign on the deaths. We only have 7 days to make your victory a rallying cry, too.
Fantastic result Mike, such a pity they were able to smother it for so long.
Very well done mike,if they picked on the people who are abusing the system ,there wouldnt be any need for all this,im sure each and every one of you could name and shame those who are stealing benefits,and when they are reported,nine times out of ten ,nothing is done, pick on the right people cameron.
By the government’s own estimates, the amount people fraudulently claiming benefits is under 2%. of those claiming overall. We can rest assured that they will have wildly inflated this figure, as part of the process of demonizing the poor and shifting the focus away from the 1% who are profiting from the way this country is run at the expense of everybody else. It’s ridiculous that people think “thieving benefits claimants are even worth bothering to bother about. Meanwhile we have very rich individuals and companies trying to evading huge amounts of tax, whether legally or illegally, that could significantly increase governmental revenue. On top of that, even if they pay their taxes, the amount they are asked to pay has been so skewed in their favour, at the expense of the poor, that it beggars belief. That’s been the basis of government taxation policy (whether Tory or Blue Labour since 1979, a huge redistribution of wealth, from the poor and moderately well off, to the rich.. That’s the real economic issue.
It’s less than that, DWP’s own figures are 0.7% for “fraud” the 2%ish figure also includes DWP & Claimant errors.
Thanks Jonathan, I have to confess, this is something I read a while ago, and clearly, as a person on benefits, I’m far too lazy to go back and find the original article! So it’s an even more dizzyingly insignificant amount than I thought. Amazing how much coverage it gets. A paranoid person might think that the right-wing press and media had an agenda of some sort.
Next they will be using the costs too much excuse! They are quite good at that when they don’t want to give out the info requested
They can’t. I’ve already got an email from the DWP saying they have the information and can provide it within the cost limit.
Well done, Mike – that’s brilliant news.
At long last, Mike. Well done. I think we all knew they would make sure nothing came out before the election but, hopefully, when the figures are made public IDS at least is up in court, if not Cameron and Osborne as well. OK, I know they’ll slither out of taking any responsibility, but at least all those people who vote for them because of all their false speil about the economy will know at what cost. That’s if they care.
Heroic effort. Thank you and well done!
Well done Mike, this news is fantastic for so many!
Well done, so pleased your perseverance has paid off.
Mike, many many thanks for persevering with this especially as you’re a carer for Mrs Mike and also try to keep your blog running. I don my cap at you for your strength.
Just a thought, have you contacted Ros Wynne-Jones at the Daily Mirror to highlight her of this pending information ? I think she would be interested.
As it happens… yes.
Mike, you’ve done a great service with your persistence in getting this to happen… Thank you !!!
Good stuff, well done. This is going to eventually come out, one way or another, so the degenerates might as well just give the information up.
It’s going to make interesting reading but does anyone think IDFS will tamper with the figures?
I suspect he will.
Well done, Mike, well done.
Well done, Mike. Thanks for carrying on with your campaigning and blogging.
I suspect I am going to have to redraw this on a bigger piece of paper 🙁
Good on you,Mike ,for your dedication.This known and suppressed information will give dignity to those who suffered the ultimate state violence-death by indifference
Thank you Mike for help in highlighting this awful situation which affects so may people like myself. xxx
Brilliant news Mike, well done and thank you.
WELL DONE!! Mike and a big THANK YOU!
Congratulations, Mike, your persistence has paid off. Great news!
Your perseverance and dogged tenacity to overcome all odds leave me lost in admiration. I am in awe of the work you have undertaken Mike and would thank you from the bottom of my heart. All those lost souls cry out for justice and you have delivered it.
This should be shared and shouted from the roof tops. Well done, so very well done.
Nice one Mike, while I don’t appreciate your view on Scotland and the SNP, I do appreciate the work that you do exposing things like this…
Well done.Your tenacity and perserverence has paid off.A true champion of the people.Now we await the report.
Awesome work Mike. Your persistance on this issue is to be congratulated. It is so important to get these figures out into the public domain.
I was one of those that went through this assessment and wrongly considered fit for work.
I won my appeal but not before suffering possibly the worst time of my life. The sheer stress and worry that Atos & the DWP caused me and my family was an absolute nightmare to live through.
I feel for all those that never made it and they need justice now. Certainly not in another 25 years when some whitewash public report is commissioned and those responsible are old and retired from public ‘service’.
I would like to see all those that worked for Atos and falsified reports, thereby wrongly inferring that people were fit for work, when they were blatantly not, named and shamed.
Those claimants that won their appeals have the names of these liars.
I wish you all the best in keeping up the pressure on these charlatans.
Well done Mike, it’s people like you that make democracy work while Iain Duncan-Smith has all the resources of wealth, privilege and government and does his utmost to undermine it.
Nice one Mike, now let’s bring this non-human IDS too justice. This guy would’ve been thrown out of the Gestapo for cruelty.
Excellent news Mike.
Thanks for being so persistent with this fight for truth, you are a very tenacious guy.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for never giving up. Congratulations for standing up for decency and truth.
Mazel Tov Comrade! <3 You've achieved a great victory for truth, justice and humanity.
With heartfelt thanks
On behalf of ALL at
Black Triangle Campaign
Bravo Mike, keep up the good work!
I remain speechless can’t thank you enough, had to read it three times to sink in. I knew it would not be revealed before the election more chance of winning the lottery.
Mike a huge thank you for all your efforts much appreciated, kindest regards to Mrs.Mike also.
If Labour end up running a minority government it will release this information immediately I assume. Surely such a government wouldn’t want to become complicit in Iain Duncan Smith’s and the Tory’s maze of evasion and lies?
10 CROWN IMMUNITY
Removal of Crown immunity
“The Government recognises the need for it to be clearly accountable where management failings on its part lead to death. There will therefore be no general Crown immunity providing exemption from prosecution”.
It explains that “the Crown should not be exempt where it is in no different position to other employers or organisations”. In 2000, the Government also committed itself to removing Crown immunity from statutory health and safety enforcement when Parliamentary time allowed.
202. The proposal to remove Crown immunity has been widely welcomed
It does make me wonder if the sudden silence and withdrawal of public meetings from a certain Mr. Smiff and McVey have any significant bearings of what may come to light.
Perhaps they are in talks with top lawyers………………on how to save their own skin and shift the blame on to someone else !!!!
I think it obvious the DWP would claim ‘”Crown Immunity”. they would have no other choice but to do so.
No MP is immune from criminal prosecution, though.
I and millions of others hope that no one gets away with such activities, no matter who they are, especially in this case.
As it’s the DWP will they just use a different set of collected info, or will they use the exact same criteria over the exact same type of data?
I would not put it past the DWP to have stopped collecting or collating the data in the same way as the original stats.
Didn’t they also pull that trick when the additional winter deaths were bad, in that they stopped recording them?
And I seem to recall when the foodbank stats were getting bad against one (delays) of the 3 or 4 reasons on the form they amended the DWP referral forms to omit all the reasons so the information could no longer be collated.
I think when the information is released if it shows a substantial reduction that doesn’t tally against the raw numbers of claimants another question will need to be asked. “was the data recorded and method of producing the reports by period identical to the original statistical report?” My guess is the numbers (we are interested in) should have increased since the harsher WCA was introduced and the numbers found “fit for work” increased, but dropped in the last year as the numbers found _not_ fit for work rapidly increased; they should mirror in reflection against each other.
The DWP has been directed to supply the information I want, in the form I want it. There is no leeway. I know the information is still being collected, and I know that it can be provided within cost limits.
Credit to you Mike for your perseverance and patience on reaching a significant milestone. This must be a much needed boost to so many people.
Your perseverance has been exemplary. It’s been a long battle. Congratulations!
Thank you Mike it has been a long uphill struggle.
I have just finished my sons appeal after two and a half years, I had to dip into the small amount of savings to pay a psychiatrist to do a report on my son who has special needs and just got word he got through. This morning another dreaded ESA form arrived for me to fill in for myself, I suffer from PTSD I won my appeal last November but because it took me two years to fight it I will have to go through it again. Caring for my son is the only thing that keeps me going if he was not there who knows I probably would not be here.
There seem to be a number of people who had been placed in the support group before 2014 who, according to the Disability website, should have been placed there in the knowledge that their situation could not improve, who received letters in 2014 telling them to attemd a review, with all their financial details again. This caused worry and concern. In one case the claimant suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, doubly incontinent, turned up via his specially designed mobility transport, driven by his retired wife, in his wheelchair, only to be told , “Oh, not to worry, we just wanted to make sure nothing had changed.” When does common sense replace the need to tick boxes, for Heaven’s sake?
You’re a hero Mike!
Many people would of quit after constant stonewalling.. I’m so happy that you endured through this and got the result.
You’ll be remembered as someone who stood up to a criminal in power.
I hope the UN and the EU reports give you the proper respect you deserve.
You’ve quite possibly saved thousands of lives here.
All the best to you and thank you.
I haven’t saved a single person.
Getting information out that says a lot of people have died won’t change what’s happening.
Public opinion creates change.
That’s why it is vital to tell people what’s going on, and to make sure they pass the message on.
In that way, we can all create pressure for the system to change – and for those responsible to face justice.
(Of course, we could find that nobody has died, but I fear that isn’t likely. Why would the Coalition Government have hidden the facts, in that case?)
please,please,please tell me i’ve got my numbers wrong.
10,600 known deaths,
circa 60,000 estimated, (up to may 2014)
(at the same rate,) aprox +25% for the extra year to may 2015?.
88,250 (aprox) DWP related deaths ?
please, tell me i’m wrong.
You’re not wrong. But the 60,000 figure is only estimated.
How long will it be before we actually get to see the results? Probably it will get mislaid.
And the blind Lemmings of the UK voted the Conservatives back into power for the next five years.
How many of the UK population do the Conservatives have to directly or indirectly kill through heavy-handed austerity measures to cut a deficit that’s growing and not shrinking?
The UKs growing austerity measures directly target the poor, disabled and infirm in society, forcing many into third world poverty and having to face the indignity of food banks so that they can eat and beg charities for handouts so that they can pay household bills.
Sir Bob Geldof begged, borrowed and stole in 1984 for the poor and dying of Africa, little did he and Band Aid know that the UK would need the same level of assistance 31 years later.
Strangely many of Africa’s problems were created by governing parties.
It’s as well not to attack the voters for their response to the parties. I’m not sure that Bob Geldof stole anything when he was working on Band Aid.
Other than that, you make very good points.