It’s your conspiracy of silence over benefit deaths that is disgraceful, IDS – not our hugely popular petition against it!

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Iain Duncan Smith has hit a new low this week.

The Gentleman Ranker has labelled the British people as “disgraceful” because they are supporting a petition to force his Department for Work and Pensions to reveal information that should be published routinely.

“Disgraceful”, is it?

To This Writer, it is “disgraceful” that the Secretary of State has lied to his fellow MPs yet again about the facts relating to people who have died while claiming sickness and disability benefits.

The “disgraceful” Duncan Smith said, “The Department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance.” In fact, we all know – because I have published it here – that the DWP does hold, and could provide within the cost limit for Freedom of Information requests, figures on the number of claimants who have died. That was said in an email between the DWP and the Information Commissioner’s office on October 21, 2013.

His attitude has been pilloried by the Daily Mirror. Under the headline, “Iain Duncan Smith claims 200,000-strong campaign to reveal Tory benefits deaths is ‘disgraceful'”, reporter Dan Bloom stated: “Iain Duncan Smith has attacked a ‘disgraceful’ campaign to reveal the number of people who died after being declared fit for work.

“The Work and Pensions Secretary lashed out after coming under fire over the figures – which his department is waging a legal battle to keep secret.”

Duncan Smith, who readers of this blog like to describe as RTU (Return To Unit) and SNLR (Services No Longer Required) in acknowledgement of his failed career in the Army, was reacting to questions from Labour MPs Marie Rimmer and Debbie Abrahams, in the House of Commons yesterday (Monday).

Ms Rimmer asked “why the Government are refusing to publish—even though the Information Commissioner has instructed them to do so—the up-to-date statistics”.

His “disgraceful” response was: “I find it absurd that Opposition Members deliberately try to misrepresent what happens under such schemes. I remind the hon. Lady that it was her Government who introduced the employment support allowance and the work capability assessment, and at no stage did they say that that led to people committing suicide. People in that situation are often in a very delicate and difficult position, and I find it disgraceful that she is going round making such allegations.”

Let’s just correct him on that. When Labour introduced ESA and the work capability assessment ‘medical’ test, it was not perfect – This Blog has campaigned for the removal of both and their replacement with a more humane system since it was founded in 2011. However, it was not until Duncan Smith arrived at the DWP and ratcheted up the stress for claimants with the additional of hugely stressful conditions and demands that the deaths started mounting.

He knows perfectly well that 10,600 people died between January and November 2011. Why did his department not publish statistics for the full year? Was it because he and his ministers know that the period leading up to Christmas regularly suffers an increase in suicides and they did not want the figures to be even more calamitous than they were already?

Those numbers are a disaster for the UK’s social security system, yet this man seems to be proud of them. He is certainly determined to defend the regime that created them, and to keep it in place.

Debbie Abrahams – a long-time friend of This Blog due to her actions as a member of the Work and Pensions Committee in the last Parliament – asked: “Given that on 5 June the High Court found the Department’s actions—this time on PIP delays—unlawful, does the Secretary of State think that he and his Department are above the law? Why does he refuse to publish the details of the number of people who have died within six weeks of their claims for incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance, including those who have been found fit for work?”

Duncan Smith’s “disgraceful” response failed to answer either of these questions. He whined: “I find it unbelievable that she, the hon. Lady and others have spent all their time trying to make allegations about people going about their work. She knows very well that the Department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance. It deals with individual cases where things have gone right or gone wrong and reviews them. It is a crying shame that Labour Members want to go out every day scaring and frightening people. It is no wonder they lost the election.”

No – he knows that the statistics he is withholding will terrify people. That is why he is trying to keep them secret. If they had been published, his Conservative Party would undoubtedly have lost the election instead of Labour.

It remains to be seen whether the facts are so abominable that Duncan Smith himself should face criminal proceedings, as many believe.

Is he withholding the evidence simply to save his own scrawny neck?

The petition currently has around 220,000 signatures. Please sign it if you haven’t already, and publicise it widely so we can push it up to 400,000 signatures as soon as possible.

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34 Thoughts to “It’s your conspiracy of silence over benefit deaths that is disgraceful, IDS – not our hugely popular petition against it!”

  1. Mike Sivier

    This Blog has received a comment from ‘Peggy’ which is perfect for this article. She is asking for information to pass on to the United Nations about this issue and others related to benefits in the UK. Here’s what she had to say:

    Hello,
    Sorry to randomly contact you this way and feel free to tell me to go away. But as you may or may not be aware the UK’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee next week. I have arranged to attend the meeting and will have a chance to brief the Committee on Monday. I noticed that no-one seems to be raising issues related to the benefits system with them and was thinking it might be helpful to do that (deaths resulting from/related to benefits certainly raise questions about the UK’s compliance with the obligation to ensure and respect the right to life).
    So, to get to the point, I am looking for information and/or input on a) what the current available information and situation is and b) any thoughts on what it would be useful for the Committee to ask and (hopefully) recommend to the government. At present all I feel I can confidently say is that the DWP is not publishing the information it has been asked for on number of deaths and its investigations into deaths following benefits sanctions. I am sure there are more substantive points about the ways in which the system fails to respect the State’s obligations on the right to life, but I have not yet found reliable info that I can use – I am no expert on this stuff, just someone who has enough friends in the system to know there are major problems.
    If you have any thoughts on what it would be useful to raise or some suggestions on where I should look for more information I would be very gratefully, but as I say no obligation. And if you are interested I can provide more info on the UN Human Rights Committee review side of things – just don’t want to overload one comment with detail.

    Please feel free to post any comments and suggestions here, and I’ll pass them on.

    1. Joan Morris

      I would ask why the Department of Work and Pensions is appealing against the decision of the Information Commissioner’s Office which stated that they see no reason why the figures should not be published. Surely there is now a public interest argument for publication as the the public is clearly interested as demonstrated by the number of signatures that have been collected… and counting.
      The other issue that I would want to raise is about the tests that are used to determine whether the claimant is fit for work as I understand they are a box ticking exercise carried out by people who are not necessarily properly trained/qualified. There are two issues here;firstly privatisation which means that getting properly qualified medical people/doctors to do the testing is too expensive. Surely a decision based on medical reasons should only be based on information and testing carried out by properly qualified doctors/medical staff. Secondly, the staff carrying out the tests are encouraged/ordered to fail those attending in order to bring down the figures for claimants. I’ve seen numerous reports in the press from fed up job centre staff saying that this is the kind of thing they are increasingly being forced to do by their managers.
      Also, as I understand it, part of the problem is how quickly the sanctions/removal of benefits can be enforced and why if the decision is found to be wrong or the DWP has acted in error why can’t the benefits be reinstated equally as quickly?
      Perhaps the UN should also consider look at the changes to current Freedom of Information legislation which this government is apparently considering, as I understand it will become more difficult to obtain ANY such information due to increased costs and the fact that the requests may be denied if it is considered too time consuming to research and provide the info requested.

    2. Karen

      Please contact Disabled People Against the Cuts via Facebook or their website. They may be able to assist you with your enquiry.

      http://dpac.uk.net/contact

  2. Tony Dean

    The Mail and Guardian both have stories about the death stats. I have managed to get comments published under the articles in both.

  3. Other possible short-names for Iain Duncan-Smith; –

    LMAYQASM – Leave Me Alone, Your Questions Are Scaring Me
    UWTTOBETOS – Underpants Wetter Than The Ouse, Brainpan Emptier Than Outer Space
    YANSM – Your Aloof Neighbourhood Spineless Man
    CVFNNL – CV From Never-Never Land
    WASWHAS – Worships A Socialist While Hating All Socialists
    IKYFYOGYK – I’m Killing You For Your Own Good You Know
    TRMIFTW – Thinks Ramsay MacDonald Is Fit-To-Work

  4. Might I just propose that, henceforth, Ian Duncan Smith be referred to as ‘Ian Disgraceful Smith’?

    This report cannot come soon enough.

    1. How about ‘Iain Dunked in S***’ – I’ve seen this used elsewhere and it seems appropriate….

      1. Mike Sivier

        Not suitable for a family audience, though.

  5. What is even more disgusting and just shows how sick this country is is the fact that an inhuman callous bastard like IDS can be in charge of welfare. Absolutely sickening.

  6. crazytrucker1951

    You gotta give Drunken Smith some credit here Mike, he has gonads the size of a Brahma Bull to accuse Labour of scaremongering when the whole Tory GE campaign was based totally on scaremongering? “Disgraceful” eh DS? I’m one of the near 200k that signed that petition and I’ll tell you something if anything is a disgrace it’s you, you are a complete waste of oxygen and should not be allowed to take another breath.
    You’ve got some front after the damage you’ve done to utter one single word of condemnation against anyone.
    Losing my temper now and the BP is rising…………………………..

    1. Mike Sivier

      You remember the Gentleman Ranker (IDS) was nowhere to be seen during the election campaign?
      That shows how toxic he is.

  7. Debbie Abrahams is no longer on the welfare committee sad to say.

    The point IDS is missing is that whatever his policy is on Welfare reform that the safeguards and working of his policy is variable and that those sick and disabled being victimized by the DWP live in fear of their lives

    They live in fear day in day out weather real or imaginary lead many to take their own lives this is made worse for those that live alone and without any family for reinsurance and help

    It will take many years for a good journalist to go through All of the welfare reform deaths over the past 5 years to find out precisely What led up to their death having been found fit for work and having been found Fit for work dying shortly after woods

    IDS should have got to grips years ago with what he knew on what was going on with these, deaths and he should now publish all that he knows about these deaths and to take action on anyone in his inquiries that have proved to have been negligent in the undertaking of his critical work

    The deaths of the sick and disabled can be found here on the Facebook page remember the dead
    https://www.facebook.com/ribbonsforwelfare?hc_location=stream

    1. crazytrucker1951

      I’ve told my postie not to deliver brown envelopes with DWP Belfast on the back Nick, lol. I dread them landing on my mat and I’m expecting one very soon as it’s about time for my annual interrogation by the Minister For Death’s Gestapo, if it wasn’t such a serious business with their interrogators it would be almost funny. I only attend now with a lady from Age UK who answers all their questions for me, they hate her and she revels in it. And no I’m not pulling a flanker, but on my own I would end up punching one of them for they keep repeating the same ludicrous questions over and over trying to catch me out, quite pathetic really. I have yet to lose all my grey cells but I can easily understand how they bully people into committing suicide after attending their interrogations, I’m of sterner stuff, for the moment that is. Mind I would like to discuss my situation with Bunkum Smith one-to-one, face-to-face, and make him understand what it’s like to be interrogated by a couple of his minions.

      1. fathomie

        Same here. The GESTAPO are due to send me a the dreaded brown envelope soon demanding I attend a pointless meeting with ATOS/Maximus. Doubtless, like last time it will consist of a few meaningless questions and then be told the interview is over. Just as with last time, nothing I say, my doctor has put in her notes, and Occy Health put down in their report (the ignoring of which, and the subsequent warning I would be sacked forced me to resign) will make the slightest difference. I hope this time I can get some support, as that makes a real difference in terms of time and effort, even if they do resent it. The last interview lasted 4 minutes exactly. The ‘assessor’ put down that the meeting had lasted 25. The DWP also sent me a lengthy script from the ‘session’ containing a list of areas I had been assessed on. Not one of them was actually questioned about. I protested this to the GESTAPO, but as you would expect, it fell on deaf ears.

        It’s not only IDS that lies, his staff at the DWP have been caught lying over Sanctions (fake meetings to catch people out, demanding their presence when they know they cannot attend and so on) and, as the my own case, shows, so do ATOS staff.

        It’s a sad day when our public servants (I expect no less from Private sector, profit driven organisations) tell lies to suit their political masters cause. They never used too…

  8. Tony Dean

    Mike, IDS told a blatant lie in Parliament at Work and Pensions questions in that he stated the DWP does not collect the data.
    Do you think a direct complaint by you to the Speaker would do any good?

    1. Mike Sivier

      No, but I suppose I can try.

  9. I would think that your post here would have helped her no end Mike. IDS has been a failure in his post rolling out the universal credit before the IT was anywhere near working correctly being just one of his failures, and consistently lying to the public and parliament should have cost him his job a long time ago.

  10. There is only one person to whom the description “disgraceful” can apply here and that is IDS

  11. Shaun Gardner

    What really enfuriates me is that this “honourable member” has repeatedly lied to Parliament. Why oh why is he never pulled up for it? Someone on the opposition benches needs to grow a spine and stand up to this cretin. He has nothing but contempt for the electorate and Parliament.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I was discussing this with Debbie Abrahams MP on Twitter. She said they have tried to raise the issue on many occasions and she will try again.

  12. crazytrucker1951

    Just been digging into the Minister For Death’s personal life, he holds a season ticket to the Spurs yet purports to be an Aston Villa fan, Private Eye call him “Iain Duncan Cough” because he’s such a poor orator, and whilst in the political wilderness which hopefully he’ll soon return to, he did after dinner speaking and once held an “Audience With” up in Liverpool and only 67 people turned up, a popular guy, not. I would go further and say he ain’t no football fan else he’d be down The Bridge, Stamford Bridge with all the other alleged Zelebrity footy fans? You stick with the team you start out with Smiff not chop and change when the mood suits, or what is fashionable at the time, for my sins I’ve been a Wolves fan for 58 years so what do I know about anything?? He lives in a posh house on his father-in-law’s estate, married into money.

  13. I would simply like one Labour Politician with gonads the same as IDS..to stand up on the floor of the house and call him out for what he is : A MURDERER!

    1. order order Stephen the speaker john bercow wont allow that language. should that language be used the speaker will ask him or her to retract that word MURDERER! and to think of another word or if not he will then be asked to leave the chamber

      if mike were a mp he would up hardly ever being in the chamber as he might not be able to control his words and would end up having tea with my daughter no less as she spends a lot of time as a researcher in and around the committee rooms

      1. Mike Sivier

        I think you might discover that my facility with the English language is quite extensive enough to keep me inside the Commons chamber, if I ever won a place there.

      2. i am only teasing you mike 🙂

    2. They may well be asked to retract or leave the chamber..when people are dying or committing suicide..and the opposition know it…it’s time for our parliamentary representatives to grow a pair…and stop bowing to ‘protocol’..imho

  14. anon

    “a CRYING SHAME…SCARING and FRIGHTENING people”

    The “people” in question seems to be IDS himself, because this very odd throwaway line is obvious psychological leakage.

    Wouldn’t the expected reaction of the British public be something more like outrage and anger?

    ‘CRYING’, ‘SCARING’, ‘FRIGHTENING’ are all terms that would generally be used of babies and little children – not adult voters. This is a very odd choice of words, and perhaps what Smith is really telling us that in the privacy of his lavish mansion, HE is SCARED, FRIGHTENED, and CRYING LIKE THE GREAT BABY HE SO RESEMBLES in dread of his upcoming exposure as a ‘SHAME’ and ‘DISGRACE’ to his country.

    1. anon

      Oh, and if he thinks the ESA/WCA system is so perfect (remember him telling Owen Jones he was ‘proud of HIS reforms’?), WHY would he now be scrambling to shift all responsibility for it over to Labour?

      He conveniently ignores the fact that given the system is so rotten he now wants to disown it, he’s already had five years in which to stop the carnage he’s tacitly admitting to.

  15. NMac

    Duncan Smith is a very corrupt and dishonest man. He should have been put before the Courts for Criminal Deception back in 2003.

  16. He “hangs himself by his own words – ” People in that situation are often in a very delicate and difficult position”

    And yet the system that he presides over finds tens of thousands of people in that delicate and difficult position, as being fit for work and refuses to release information about the collateral damage in lives that this causes.

    To knowingly treat people that he acknowledges are “delicate” in this way shows a callous disregard for human life and suffering.

  17. Maria

    It just as would put it, Disgraceful behaviour from a Member of parliament. Its a perfectly valid question, not offensive in any way. What reason could he have against it?

  18. I wish people would refer to him by his given name George Iain Duncan Smith, but like Gideon he may not like the name George, I just wish MP’s would stand up to him and call him George in the house of lies.
    I also wish they would refer to him as corrupt and dishonourable when referring to him after all he claimed £100 for 60 flash wipes (that’s £1.67 per wipe) you can buy a full pack for that.

  19. Garry

    The other component in this is that the refusal to disclose the figures and especially the twists and turns that were taken to prevent them being released before the last election should be considered electoral fraud.

  20. It remains to be seen whether the facts are so abominable that Duncan Smith himself should face criminal proceedings, as many believe.

    Wanted! A group of professional people to include benefit lawyers, lawyers specialising in criminal law, Ex. DWP assessors, Ex. ATOS assessors, medics who have coroner expertise, social workers, statisticians with expert knowledge of public health statistics especially forensic stats.

    All positions are voluntary as I’m attempting to build a team that will lead to the eventual prosecution of our current political leaders. If you have a love for humanity and never want to see our political leaders treat the terminally sick and disabled in such a contemptuous vile way again please join in this quest!

    http://tinyurl.com/UK-Government-in-Court

    http://www.datsyn.com/press-release/1292/2014/10/01/United-Kingdom-professional-and-legal-caring-people-wanted

    Pass this on and post it all over

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