Tag Archives: Early Day Motion

Merseyside MP renews pressure to reveal death toll after “fit for work” tests

Marie Rimmer is This Writer’s favourite of the new intake of MPs since the general election.

She has only been in Parliament for two months and already she is working hard, from the Opposition benches, to help make life a little more tolerable and create a real difference for the sick and disabled people who are at the mercy of our grotesque government.

At the time of writing, the Early Day Motion has attracted 63 signatures from the five parties and one independent named below.

As for the final point… that’s at the end.

The Merseyside MP’s early day motion may prove an embarrassment for the government as 47 Labour, SNP, SDLP, Plaid Cymru, DUP and independent MPs have now signed it.

This level of cross-party backbench support for the motion is unusually high, with only around 1 in 10 early day motions normally gathering 50 signatures or more.

Marie Rimmer, who only joined the Commons in May 2015, said: “Almost three weeks ago, the Prime Minister assured me that the Government would release the data regarding the deaths of those found fit for work by face-to-face assessments.

“Despite these assurances and my letter to him on the 26th June, there is still no indication of when these statistics will be released.

“The Information Commissioner ruled in April that these statistics must be released. It is disgraceful that the Government continues to fail to follow those instructions.

“I will continue to press for the public’s right to have an answer and disclosure on this important matter.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The government intends to publish the statistics, but before doing so they need to meet the high standards expected by the UK Statistics Authority.”

The DWP comment means the government does not intend to publish the statistics – at least, not as requested in my Freedom of Information request (which is what started this ball rolling).

This, of course, means that the DWP’s excuse for not publishing the actual number of deaths immediately – that it is going to publish them later – is wrong. It isn’t, and any such claim can only be a lie.

The attempt to hide behind the UK Statistics Authority is irrelevant. This claim about “high standards” is motivated by another claim, that the actual number of deaths could be “misinterpreted” if it comes into the public domain. But the Freedom of Information Act is motive-blind. Without being able to hide behind any specific exemption, such as the plan to publish the number of deaths later (allowed by section 22 of the Act), the law says only two requirements must be satisfied: Does the DWP have the information? Yes it does. And can the DWP publish it within the legal expenditure limits? Yes it can.

There will be a tribunal hearing later this year, at which these facts will be spelled out to this errant department.

Sooner or later, the real number of deaths will have to be revealed.

The DWP will save itself a great deal of embarrassment if it publishes that figure now.

Source: Merseyside MP renews pressure to reveal death toll after “fit for work” tests – Liverpool Echo#ICID=sharebar_twitter#ICID=sharebar_twitter

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Corbyn backs Parliamentary motion on DWP deaths

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MPs are being urged to support a Parliamentary motion calling on the Conservative Government to publish death statistics relating to people on benefit, in line with This Writer’s Freedom of Information request that was granted on April 30.

Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons, allowing MPs to draw attention to an event or cause.

MPs register their support for EDMs by signing them. According to the Parliament UK website, the first signature on this motion belongs to Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn.

The EDM, number 285, was tabled yesterday (July 13) by Marie Rimmer, who put Iain Duncan Smith on the spot in a Commons debate a few weeks ago, alongside Debbie Abrahams.

It states: “That this House notes that on 30 April 2015 the Information Commission took a decision that the Government must disclose the number of incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance claimants who have died since November 2011 until May 2014 within 35 calendar days; acknowledges the petition signed by over 230,000 members of the public calling for this data to be released; further notes that even though the 35 day deadline has passed this data has not been released; has concerns that the data released may be a standardised figure rather than a full picture; and therefore calls on the Government to ensure the release of this data in full and without further delay.” [Bolding mine]

The tabling of this motion, and Mr Corbyn’s support for it, puts the issue of benefit deaths right at the top of the political agenda.

The last time the government published the death figures relating to Employment and Support Allowance, the main incapacity benefit, they showed that 10,600 people had died within 11 months, between January and November 2011. Note that figures for the traditional “suicide season” of December that year were omitted.

The public has had no further information on ESA-related fatalities for three and a half years. It is therefore impossible to calculate whether changes to the benefit system brought in by Iain Duncan Smith have been effective – or whether they have contributed to an increased death toll.

The fact that Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn has been the first to support this motion means that, if he becomes Labour leader, the party will make this matter a priority. None of the other candidates – so far – have expressed any interest in the plight of the long-term sick and disabled.

Vox Political therefore urges readers to contact their MPs – of whatever party; Conservatives are also concerned about this issue; and urge them to support EDM 285.

In addition, those of you who are members of the Labour Party are urged to support Mr Corbyn in his bid for the leadership.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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NHS London risk register exposes Tory threat to healthcare

It seems the London NHS Risk Assessment that was sent to the central Department of Health civil servants drawing up the Risk Register & Report (the document that Andrew Lansley refuses to publish, contrary to a ruling by the Information Commissioner), has been leaked and is now public knowledge.

According to the information in this document, London NHS’s Risk Register explicitly warns that the financial viability of the Tory NHS Bill is seriously questionable, predicting “deteriorations in the financial positions of one or more NHS organisations”.

Practices could go bust or require central intervention to prop up their financial position.  The Risk Report also warns of economic ‘slippage’ & ‘cost pressures’ arising.

The London NHS risk report categorically states that commissioning groups run by GPs may “not be able to secure [services] […] within the running cost range”.

This means the “quality” of health care may be “poor”.

Please ask your MP to sign this Early Day Motion calling for the Risk Register to be published.

Mr Lansley’s UNclean Bill of health

I have trust issues when it comes to Andrew Lansley and his Health and Social Care Bill.

Mr Lansley swears blind that introducing competition will not only bring in better patient care, but will drive costs down as well.

The problem is, so much of the medical profession opposes it – including huge numbers of GPs, the people who are meant to benefit the most – that one has to be sceptical.

Also, if his Bill is so healthy, why is he – even now – refusing to publish the Department of Health’s risk report? This is the document that the Information Commissioner ordered him to release last November; according to the law (as I understand it) he is committing a criminal act by failing to publish.

I read today on the Green Benches blog that the report contains a very serious warning that Lansley’s changes will spark a surge in healthcare costs and that the NHS will become unaffordable as private profiteers siphon off money for their own benefit.

It may also warn specifically that GPs have no experience or skills to manage costs effectively.

This is a very serious matter. It means Mr Lansley – who has already criminalised himself over this, let’s not forget – could be attempting to mislead Parliament.

But let’s not get carried away. This is all speculation.

So, let’s make a constructive suggestion.

If Mr Lansley is so adamant that his Bill is going to be good for both patient care and the nation’s finances, let’s see him build a few safeguards into it.

Isn’t it time we asked what mechanism is built into the Bill to ensure that, if costs skyrocket and the quality of patient care plummets, Mr Lansley’s changes will be reversed, and the system brought back under control?

Isn’t it time we asked what penalties Mr Lansley himself will face, if the report is published after the Bill is passed and (as many fear) reveals exactly what the Green Benches blog mentions?

Isn’t it time the Tories made an effort to suggest they can be trusted to do the right thing for a change, instead of merely doing what’s right-wing?

There is also an Early Day Motion here which states “That this House expects the Government to respect the ruling by the Information Commissioner and to publish the risk register associated with the Health and Social Care Bill reforms in advance of Report Stage in the House of Lords in order to ensure that it informs that debate.”

Early Day Motions are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons, but very few are actually debated. EDMs allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause. MPs register their support by signing individual motions and I shall be calling on my own MP to support this one.

If you agree, go thou and do likewise.