Driven to fury by DWP’s attitude to the deaths it has caused

A commenter on the blog sent me a link to Jack Monroe’s Facebook page today. I’m probably as familiar with Jack as you are, but no more so – perhaps mainstream success gives that person more validity in some way than mine in the social media. But Phil’s “Have you seen this?” intrigued me. The link was to a post following up on an Observer article published over the weekend, and read as follows: “I would like to publicly apologise to the Department of Work And Pensions for an inaccurate statistic in my…

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Latest attack on NHS weekend care is shot down by British Medical Journal

Were you worried by the revelations in the mainstream media that babies born on weekends are more likely to die? Don’t be. It’s another dumb trick. The Daily Mail published the revelations about weekend care in the NHS – in an article that seems to have gone missing from the World Wide Web. How curious! Anyway, here’s the British Medical Journal on the many ways the article was wrong: Notice the first point about causation. This Writer saw that and thought, “Sauce for the goose.” It’s exactly what the Conservative…

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Incapacity: Fewer claimants died after DWP suspended repeat assessments

It’s true – the DWP suspended repeat work capability assessments of Employment and Support Allowance claimants on January 20, 2014 and – thanks to figures This Writer received from the Department last week, Vox Political can reveal that the number of people who died while claiming incapacity benefit started to drop shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, the numbers revealed are low – meaning that This Writer cannot claim they are statistically significant – that the results we have are not from random chance. There could be several reasons for that, though. I…

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DWP blamed by second coroner for incapacity benefit claimant suicide

So you thought Mary Hassall was the only British coroner to have blamed a benefit claimant’s death on the DWP? Think again. To This Writer’s shame, the case of Julia Kelly was reported in This Blog, earlier this year – but I did not recall that Northamptonshire County Coroner Anne Pember’s report had conferred responsibility for her death on the Department for Work and Pensions after the case of Michael O’Sullivan was reported last month. Mr O’Sullivan committed suicide in late 2013. North London coroner Mary Hassall, at his inquest…

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Tories’ ‘tails’ are ‘tweaked’ over non-response to benefit sanctions review

The Conservative Government released its response to a major review of its policy on benefit sanctions today – so quietly it almost qualifies as silence. Fortunately for those affected, there is a vocal Opposition Party sitting in the House of Commons once more, and even Speaker John Bercow agreed that the way the matter had been handled offered a “prime-time opportunity to tweak the Government’s tail”. The government was responding to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report, Benefit sanctions beyond the Oakley Review, which set out more than two…

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Serial shaming for Iain Duncan Smith in Prime Minister’s Questions

No doubt the secretary-in-a-state about work and pensions won’t admit it, but any cabinet minister who comes under such a sustained assault during questions to the Prime Minister must be doing something wrong. Iain Duncan Smith was attacked over the United Nations’ inquiry into the possibility that the UK has committed grave and systematic abuses of the human rights of disabled people, over suicides committed by benefit claimants due to DWP decisions, and over the vertiginous increase in food bank use. Just because David Cameron had to field the question,…

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DWP confusion: Saying claimants can die twice – and denying it – at the same time

The Department for Work and Pensions has tried to provide reassurance over the accuracy of its claimant death statistics – but has succeeded only in confirming that it has muddled the figures. Responding to the Department’s statistical releases of August 27, I told the Information Commissioner’s lawyers: “Reference to the DWP’s other statistical release of August 27 casts doubt on the veracity of the information in table 2.1 [of the response to my own Freedom of Information request], which claims to provide the total number of individuals who died while claiming…

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This is how the DWP denies responsibility for claimant deaths

The Department for Work and Pensions has made a desperate attempt to deny responsibility for causing the deaths of an unknown number of former incapacity benefits claimants, in a recent email to This Writer. The DWP has written to me in a new attempt to wriggle out of providing a full response to my Freedom of Information request about the deaths of claimants. I have already discussed one aspect of this letter in a previous article. A representative of the Department (who goes unnamed in the letter – it seems…

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Has the DWP made a fatal error over the claimant deaths FoI request?

To cut a long story short: It looks as though the DWP has blown it, big-time. Dedicated VP readers who read the article earlier this week will know that the Department for Work and Pensions had until yesterday (October 16) to provide a full response to my Freedom of Information request on the deaths of incapacity benefits claimants. I received a response by email at around 7.15pm on Thursday – and it’s another attempt at evasion… … a very poor attempt. Let’s remind ourselves of the request. On May 28, 2014,…

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DWP has delayed long enough. WHERE IS MY INFORMATION?

When the government wants information from a citizen, you have to provide it within a certain time limit under threat of sanction. Why is it, then, that the government is allowed all the time in the world when the roles are reversed? The story so far: A long time ago (May 28, 2014, in fact), This Writer submitted a Freedom of Information request, asking for the the number of incapacity benefits claimants who had died between the end of November 2011 and May 28, 2014. The DWP claimed to have…

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