Tag Archives: recipient

Tory incompetence: Cabinet Office publishes home addresses of Honours recipients

Data publication: This is how the recipients of the New Year Honours probably responded to the announcement that their private details had been made public by the government.

They really can’t complain. We can be sure most of the New Year Honours recipients voted for this kind of Tory ineptitude so they can’t make much of a fuss about having received it.

Yes, the Tory-run Cabinet Office has managed to publish the home addresses of celebrities including Elton John and cricketer Ben Stokes, alongside those of police officers, politicians like Iain Duncan Smith and Ministry of Defence staff, and hundreds of “unsung” local heroes.

The Tory government even made the details available in an easily-downloadable list – to make it extra easy for enemies of the state to access the home addresses of its defenders.

The spreadsheet was posted on the government website at 10.30pm on Friday (December 27), and was taken down early today (December 28).

But experts reckon the breach will be hard to remedy, now it has happened. Even if the number of people who downloaded the list is known – along with their identities, how many of them will have passed it on? It could spread like a virus.

Clearly the Tory government doesn’t have the slightest idea about data protection and cannot stick by the rules that it made for itself.

Of course we already knew that. The biggest security risk in the country is current prime minister Boris Johnson.

The Tories passed a new Data Protection Act last year, intended to ensure that sensitive information of this kind would not be broadcast by organisations such as, say, Her Majesty’s Government.

The Cabinet Office, which published the list, is responsible for supporting the National Security Council and the Joint Intelligence Organisation. It coordinates the government’s response to crises and manages the UK’s cybersecurity.

So we’re all doomed, obviously.

Source: Government exposes addresses of new year honours recipients

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Atos deaths: A letter to Mr… Smith

Atos: Welcome to Hell

Is the Department for Work and Pensions unable to compile data about the number of incapacity benefits claimants (including IB and ESA) who have died because it is underfunded – or understaffed?

That is the main question in Samuel Miller’s latest letter to Iain (Something) Smith, which you can find over at http://mydisabilitystudiesblackboard.blogspot.ca/2013/06/my-latest-letter-to-iain-duncan-smith.html

This blog mentioned a few days ago that LieDS and his department have decided to withhold up-to-date information on the number of deaths involving people going through the assessment process for benefits (via Atos), who have been refused benefit or who are appealing against a decision.

Vox Political has put in a Freedom of Information request, requiring the DWP to produce that information, and we know that many of you have followed that lead.

Mr Miller has been in the fortunate position to write an authoritative inquiry – as the person who made the original request all the way back in (and this will make your eyes water if you don’t know about it already) November last year!

“On November 6, 2012, I wrote to your department regarding the number of Incapacity Benefit claimants who had died that year,” he writes.

“I pointed out that ‘Incapacity Benefits: Death of Recipients (9 July 2012)’ was outdated, as it only provided mortality statistics up to November 2011.”

The letter goes on to detail the DWP’s reticence in responding, until he received a reply on June 24 stating that there is “no intention” of releasing an updated version of the statistics.

Mr Miller’s appraisal of the situation, while polite, goes straight for the jugular, and if I were Iain Pretentious Smith, the Secretary would be in a right State after reading it.

“If your department is too understaffed and underfunded to compile such data, then I fully understand and sympathize,” writes Mr Miller-  in the knowledge that the DWP has thousands upon thousands of employees and spends billions of pounds every year on pointless money-wasting projects like the Work Programme (see recent Vox Political articles for the current state of that road crash).

“However, I must confess that while I have been very patient and reasonable regarding this matter over a period of many months, I am succumbing to the belief that your department is resorting to petty obstructionism — even a full-fledged cover-up — because the mortality of the sick and disabled has become too politicized for the Tories to cope with”.

That’s a crippling blow, right there. Now that the observation has been made, it will be interesting to watch Smith squirm out of answering it. So let’s keep asking him until he does.

“I suspect that there has been a staggering increase in the number of benefit claimant deaths since November 2011.”

This, of course, is the killing blow. We all want the answer to that one. A proper answer. A straight answer.

And we want it now.

… which isn’t soon enough for Mr Miller, whose legendary patience has worn out: “I intend to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office unless the transparency of your department improves.”

That is the next step for the Vox FOI request – if there’s no reasonable response (and you’ll read about it, whatever it may be) then the Information Commissioner will be receiving another complaint.

If you believe this cause is just, go thou and do likewise.

DWP refuses to provide information on ESA/IB deaths. What is it hiding?

Brian McArdle. On the BBC's Question Time in November last year, Iain Duncan Smith flew into a rage when Owen Jones challenged him about what happened to Mr McArdle, "57 years old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye; he couldn’t speak. He died one day after being found ‘fit for work’ by Atos."

Brian McArdle. On the BBC’s Question Time in November last year, Iain Duncan Smith flew into a rage when Owen Jones challenged him about what happened to Mr McArdle, “57 years old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye; he couldn’t speak. He died one day after being found ‘fit for work’ by Atos.”

Once bitten, twice shy – the DWP has refused to release an update to its figures on the deaths of people in receipt of incapacity benefits (including Employment and Support Allowance).

Long-term readers may recall there was quite a stir last year when these figures were released, showing that around 73 people were dying every week after having been denied ESA or put in the work-related activity group.

This was more than twice as many as the previously-accepted figure of 32 people every week (which was still scandalous).

I received word of the cover-up last night, from Samuel Miller, the long-time friend of Vox Political who has been liaising with the United Nations about the Coalition government’s record on disability and incapacity benefits and the possibility that the Coalition is committing crimes against humanity.

“Just received word from the DWP that they will NOT release an update to ‘Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of recipients’,” he wrote.

“Is this tantamount to a cover-up of thousands of deaths and/or has mortality of the sick and disabled become too politicized for the government?

“Needless to say, I am furious.”

The response from the DWP runs as follows:

“Thank you for your email and apologies for the delay in responding.

“The publication you refer to was released on Department’s website as an ad-hoc statistical analysis publication. As such there is no intention of releasing an updated version of these statistics.” [Emphasis mine]

The “delay in responding” was a particularly long one. Mr Miller sent, by email, a copy of the original acknowledgement he received from the DWP, dated – if you can believe it – November 16, 2012. Were they hoping he would forget about it?

That letter stated: “I am sorry that the information you require is not readily available. As this would take a considerable length of time to pull together I am unable, at this stage, to tell you when the next report will be available.”

Never, if the department has its way, it seems.

This is not good enough, and we would be letting down everybody who has died if we let it pass.

I have therefore, today, sent a Freedom of Information request to the DWP, asking almost exactly the same questions as those to which ‘Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of recipients’ responds.

Sent to [email protected] and under the title ‘Freedom of Information requests’, it runs as follows:

“Please provide the number of Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have died in 2012. Please break that figure down into the following categories:

  • Those who are 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
  • Those who have an appeal pending

“I am aware that the Department for Work and Pensions came under criticism last year because it did not follow up on the conditions of people who had been found fit for work and signed off the benefit. It is to be hoped that this has been rectified and follow-up checks have been carried out. If this is the case, please provide details of:

  • Former ESA/IB claimants who have died after being put onto Jobseekers’ Allowance
  • Former ISA/IB claimants who were taken off benefit but put onto no other means of support, and the number of these who have died.

“Thank you for your co-operation in this matter.”

I strongly urge you to do the same. There is strength in numbers.

Name benefit recipients if you like – but only alongside all taxpayers’ details

130623nameandshame

I just received this as a comment from Samwise Gamgee, who is a frequent friend of this page. It’s too interesting to leave as a comment so I quote it here in full:

‘Why Osborne must publish the names of every benefits claimant – and how much we pay them: An incendiary idea to save on our £500m A DAY welfare bill’.

“It seems Mark Littlewood, Director General for the Institute of Economic Affairs, wants to name (but not shame, he assures us) everyone in receipt of state benefits, including pensioners. From the article –

‘The welfare benefits claimed by every individual – including pensions, jobseeker’s allowance, bus passes, winter fuel payments and child benefit – should be put in the public domain.

“‘They should be listed, in full, on a publicly accessible website for all of us to inspect. Taxpayers have a right to know exactly who is claiming what and how much they are getting.”

“This mad idea is needed because the welfare bill ‘is ballooning out of control’. So how would such a proposal help reduce the bill? Well Mr Littlewood is clear that this will not be about naming and shaming people, but he does say taxpayers are entitled to know where their money is going (and to whom).

“So draw your own conclusions. I certainly have!”

The logical reply to that is, if taxpayers are entitled to know where their money is going, then everyone should be entitled to know where it originated.

In other words, by all means publish names and details of benefit recipients but, before this happens, let’s see the names and details of all taxpayers, including total earnings per year (before any tax avoidance schemes get into them) and the total amount of tax they pay.

The findings should make very interesting reading.

But do you know what?

If publishing the latter list is a precondition of publishing the former, I doubt anything will happen about it.