On Employment and Support Allowance, Ms Patel isn’t sitting pretty

The new Parliamentary session is going to be very hard on Iain Duncan Smith and his team (if you can call it that) at the Department for Work and Pensions. His skiving employment minister Priti Patel discovered this on her very first day back. Ms Patel, who had the hypocrisy to criticise the UK’s workforce as lazy at a time when her own Parliamentary attendance record was among the lowest in the House of Commons, faced an inevitable series of questions on the government’s botched release of figures relating to…

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More drivel, less fact from the BBC on incapacity benefit deaths

If its reports on the deaths of state benefit claimants are any yardstick, nobody should trust the BBC’s More or Less programme as anything other than a propaganda wing of the Conservative Government. “Tim Harford explains – and sometimes debunks – the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life”, states the blurb on the radio programme’s web page. But More or Less has form for broadcasting drivel and, sadly, the reality of last Friday’s report on the DWP’s recent statistical releases fell far short of…

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Why the delay, DWP? The ONS has templates on calculating death rates

Did you know that the Department for Work and Pensions spent two years delaying the publication of death figures for incapacity benefit claimants when they could have been completed in a week? The Office for National Statistics provides information on how to calculate Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, including information on the size of the general population and the death rates for particular age ranges within it. You can download the templates yourself from this site. This means that the Department for Work and Pensions could have used its own figures to…

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Full Fact’s ‘fit for work’ coverage is unfit for use as toilet paper

Here’s a slimy little article for you: Sam Ashworth-Hayes’ piece on the benefit deaths at Full Fact. The fact-checking website set him to respond to reporting of the DWP’s statistical release on incapacity benefit-related deaths, and he’s done a proper little cover-up job. “It was widely reported that thousands of people died within weeks of being found ‘fit for work’ and losing their benefits,” he scribbled. “This is wrong. “Within weeks of ending a claim, not within weeks of an assessment.” Not true – unless Sam is saying the DWP has failed to answer my…

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Known number of deaths while claiming incapacity benefits nears 100,000

The Department for Work and Pensions has admitted defeat in its attempt to hide the number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits since November 2011 – and has announced that the number who died between January that year and February 2014 is a shocking 91,740. This represents an increase to an average of 99 deaths per day or 692 per week, between the start of December 2011 and the end of February 2014 – compared with 32 deaths per day/222 per week between January and November 2011. The DWP…

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Unrepentant IDS will persecute the sick no matter what the death statistics say

The publication of the DWP’s damped-down death statistics (we’ll be given ratios because the actual number of deaths is too inflammatory, we’re told) will be a victory for those of us who have campaigned for the facts, no matter what they actually say. If you didn’t know already, the DWP only announced that it would publish these figures on Thursday (August 27) after This Writer supplied his submission to the Information Tribunal on the DWP’s appeal against providing the actual numbers – a submission which included a request to have the…

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Zac and Sarah don’t exist – why should we believe anything from the DWP?

How can we trust the Department for Work and Pensions’ figures on incapacity benefit claimants’ deaths when we’ve had scandal after scandal from it over falsified evidence? The Department for Work and Pensions has been caught out in another lie – this time over the existence of people in two fake ‘case studies’ used to promote its cruel, unfair and vindictive sanctions regime. ‘Sarah’ was quoted praising the DWP for threatening to withdraw benefits if she refused to complete her CV, while ‘Zac’ praised the new benefit rules, which had…

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Listen to this, then try to say the government isn’t victimising the disabled

In the same week David Cameron tried to put us off signing the petition on ESA deaths by saying mortality statistics would be published – but failed to mention that the numbers would be fudged into an ‘Age-Standardised Mortality Rate’ ratio, rather than be a straight statement of the number of deaths… In the same week that the Gentleman Ranker, Iain Duncan Smith, tried to tell MPs that his Department for Work and Pensions doesn’t collect those figures… In the same week that the Labour Party told us the DWP’s…

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Are ratios the evasive politician’s new favourite tool?

You may be aware that This Writer made his writing debut in the national news media today (June 25), discussing the struggle to get the DWP to update its statistics on the number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits. It was appropriate that this should happen today, because it is the second anniversary of the launch of my first Freedom of Information request on the subject – you know, the vexatious one. The article that appeared was, in fact, the second piece I sent in to The…

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How the DWP plans to hoodwink you over benefit deaths

  News stories are proliferating about the increasing clamour for the Department for Work and Pensions to publish ESA death figures, so you are increasingly likely to read a comment similar to – or the same as – this: “The Department for Work and Pensions insists it is irresponsible to suggest deaths which follow an assessment that claimants are fit to work were caused by the assessment. “A spokeswoman said: ‘We have been clear that we intended to publish these statistics – but we need to make sure they meet…

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