Embrace? Theresa May is trying to draw Jean-Claude Junker into her death-grip but he is determinedly holding her back.
This will be the final brand in the bonfire of David Davis’s 58 (or however many there were supposed to be) Brexit analyses, then.
MPs have signalled they either don’t believe the information in those documents – or they are out of date.
It also shows that the Conservative government has been trying to negotiate a Brexit deal without any idea of the possible effects – of any outcome. Perhaps Mr Davis should have spent a little more than four hours this year in talks with his counterpart, Michel Barnier?
The situation is akin to Theresa May trying to dance with Jean-Claude Junker in a completely dark room; for all she knows, he is as far away from her as it is possible to be – and that is probably the way he wants it.
The story simply reinforces the view This Writer put forward on June 2: Members of the Tory government don’t care what impact Brexit will have on the people of the UK.
Their only concern is how they personally can profit from it.
The Treasury and Bank of England have been asked to draw up analysis of the impact of any Brexit deal struck with the UK.
The Commons Treasury select committee said it had also requested research from the Financial Conduct Authority on the potential impact of the withdrawal agreement and future framework.
Treasury committee chairwoman Nicky Morgan said MPs should be “properly informed” before the promised parliamentary vote on the deal.
Donald Trump mocks a journalist’s physical disability. Now he’s saying he acts like this often. And the people of the United States seriously wanted him to be president?
So, Donald Trump – the US president-elect who thought it was permissible to physically mock Pulitzer Prize-winning disabled journalist Serge Kovaleski, and then tried to avoid the backlash by pretending he often moves in that way – asked singer and left-wing activist Charlotte Church to perform at his inauguration.
Here’s her response:
@realDonaldTrump Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you're a tyrant. Bye💩💩💩💩
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 early the following year, recorded that his death occurred as a direct result of being declared “fit for work” in a DWP work capability assessment, made in response to his claim for Employment and Support Allowance.
Julia Kelly took her life in November 2014. At her inquest in March this year, according to the Northampton Chronicle, “Coroner Anne Pember, recording her verdict of suicide, said she also believed that the ‘upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life’.”
Ms Kelly had been forced to give up work in 2010 due to pain caused by a car crash (which was not her fault) five years previously. In 2013, she was involved in a second crash and had to undergo a six-hour operation on her spine as a result.
Together with her father, David Kelly, she formed a charity – Away With Pain – to help fellow sufferers of chronic back pain.
But then the Department for Work and Pensions told her she had to repay £4,000 in Employment and Support Allowance payments, saying she had failed to declare capital funds.
It seems the government department was referring to money held by the charity, rather than funds owned by Ms Kelly herself.
Ms Kelly, who had fought for every penny of her benefit at three tribunal hearings, was bombarded with a series of repayment demands. According to her father, it was this relentless stream of brown-envelope letters that pushed her to suicide.
He told Channel 4 News about it. Take a look at the report:
A few months later, the DWP started stridently claiming that no causal link had been shown between claims for incapacity benefits and the suicide of claimants, in response to demands from almost 250,000 petitioners – and more than 90 MPs including the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn – to publish the number of claimants who have died on benefits.
We all know the DWP was lying, thanks to Ms Hassall’s report on Michael O’Sullivan.
The facts about Julia Kelly mean we must now question the magnitude of the lie.
We know the DWP examined the cases of around 60 people who committed suicide after their benefits were withdrawn or reduced – that fact was most recently mentioned in Prime Minister’s Questions, in the House of Commons on Wednesday (October 21) – but the Department has refused to publish its findings.
All Cameron would offer was that he would “look … at” the question asked about publication. He can look at it all day without doing anything about it, of course.
Meanwhile, serious questions are arising as we learn more about these deaths and the extent of the DWP cover-up.
How many people have died due to the reduction or withdrawal of incapacity benefits?
How many of these deaths happened long enough after their benefits were withdrawn that the DWP never bother to record them – on the grounds that it was none of the Department’s business (this is what happened with Mr O’Sullivan)?
How many more coroners’ verdicts have implicated the DWP in the deaths, but have been quietly swept under the carpet?
And – as the United Nations investigates possible grave and systematic violations of incapacity benefit claimants’ human rights – what can be done to secure the release of the facts?
Vox Political’s Mike Sivier (that’s me) will be appearing on LBC radio at around 1pm to talk about the revelation that a coroner ruled that a man died as a direct result of being involved in a work capability assessment organised by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Thanks to the Daily Mail, we now know that the deceased was 60-year-old Michael O’Sullivan, of Highgate, north London, who took his own life six months after being found fit for work. The Atos assessor never asked him about suicidal thoughts and the DWP decision maker never considered relevant evidence from his doctors.
The DWP said this was because its policy on further evidence was “regrettably not followed in this case” and that it would circulate a reminder. We have no evidence that this was done or that further deaths did not follow because of similar omissions – and any claims by the DWP must be treated as suspicious.
This is because the DWP, knowing that a causal link between the work capability assessment and the death of claimants had been proved by north London coroner Mary Hassall in January 2014, spent the whole summer denying any such link to campaigners and MPs who were demanding publication of up-to-date claimant death statistics.
Even after its statistics – poor as they are – were published, the DWP kept up the pretence. Clearly, we cannot trust a word that comes out of that organisation.
… and that’s what I’ll be saying at around 1pm today.
Too ill to work means too ill to live: Work capability assessors have neglected to carry out their duties properly, and this has led to the death of at least one claimant.
Let’s get this straight: In an inquest into the death of a disabled man, a coroner ruled in early 2014 that his suicide was a direct result of being declared ‘fit for work’ in a work capability assessment.
Bearing this in mind…
What has the DWP been saying about there being “no causal link” between its administration of the benefit system and the deaths of claimants, again?
Time and time again, we have been told that there is no link between the deaths of any benefit claimants and their treatment by the DWP, even though that government department had at least one report proving the opposite. We can say “at least one report” because we have no evidence to show that coroners have not submitted many, many more.
We do have evidence that the Department for Work and Pensions – and with the Conservative Government as a whole – has been lying to us.
The DWP’s response to the concerns raised by North London coroner Mary Hassall was that its policy on dealing with cases such as that of ‘Mr A’, the deceased, “regrettably was not followed in this case”. And in how many others?
The Atos-employed work capability assessor, responsible for collecting evidence to determine whether Mr A should receive Employment and Support Allowance, had recorded that Mr A was “at no significant risk by working” and failed to ask him if he had suicidal thoughts. Perhaps this is for the best, as we know from experience that the next question is “Why haven’t you killed yourself?” – the query that many of us suspect has ‘nudged’ many towards suicide.
According to Disability News Service, “The Atos healthcare professional had failed to take into account the views of any of Mr A’s doctors during a 90-minute assessment, telling him the DWP decision-maker would look at that evidence instead.
“But the DWP decision-maker did not request any reports or letters from Mr A’s GP (who had assessed him as not being well enough to work), his psychiatrist (who had diagnosed him with recurrent depression and panic disorder with agoraphobia), or his clinical psychologist (who had assessed him as “very anxious and showing signs of clinical depression”). Instead, Mr A was found fit for work. Six months later, he killed himself.”
Six months later? So Mr A would not have appeared in any of the statistics released by the DWP in August, then.
You see how the government has tried to spin its way out of responsibility?
The DNS report continues: “The coroner said in her report that she believed that action should be taken ‘to prevent future deaths’ and that DWP had the power to take such action.
“In its response, DWP said there was a ‘clear policy that further medical evidence [should be requested] in cases where claimants report suicidal ideation in their claim forms which regrettably was not followed in this instance’. It said it planned to issue a reminder to staff about this guidance, but appeared to make no further suggestions for how to prevent further such deaths.”
We have no evidence that any such reminder was issued to staff or that any of them acted upon it if it was.
These are circumstances that should lead to a major prosecution for corporate manslaughter.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service, an organisation is guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death; and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased. An organisation is guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised by its senior management is a substantial element in the breach.
It seems clear that, not only has the coroner accused the DWP of such a breach; the Department has admitted it – and failed to take steps to stop it happening again.
Let’s pause for a moment and note that we would not have evidence that the DWP has been lying about the “causal link” between its behaviour and the deaths of benefit claimants without my now-infamous Freedom of Information request – submitted in May 2014, after the inquest into the death of Mr A.
The request called for the number of deaths of anybody who had been found ‘fit for work’ between the end of November 2011 and May 28, 2014. This would, of course, have included the death of Mr A. The DWP failed to include his death in its statistical release of August 27 this year (which the government claims is a response to my request). Only people whose claim ended within two weeks of their death were included in the figures. I have asked the Information Commissioner to enforce publication of the full number of deaths, in line with both my request and his decision notice of April 30 this year.
It is only when the full number of deaths is known that we may be able to start assessing the full, devastating effect of Iain Duncan Smith’s policy of hate towards people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.
For those of us who are working to defend the most vulnerable people in society, important ground has been gained.
Biased Broadcasting Corporation: It seems the BBC’s More or Less programme really is more interested in broadcasting the views of the Conservative Government than in providing a genuinely impartial public service.
I had another email from Richard Vadon, the editor of BBC Radio 4’s More or Less today – and it was absolutely pathetic.
“I note that you have published my reply on your website without permission under those circumstances I will be making no further responses.”
I have replied as follows:
“You never asked for any of it to be kept in confidence. Why should you wish it to be? You broadcast your programme happily enough but, now that you’re being asked to justify it in public, suddenly you have nothing to say.
“The public can judge you on that.”
I’ll let you know my own judgement right now: Pathetic.
This is the last (so far) episode in the More or Less saga: My response to the comments of the programme’s editor, Richard Vadon, regarding the segment on the programme covering the DWP’s release of statistics relating to deaths of claimants of incapacity benefits – published as promised in a previous article.
Thank you for your very fast response to my further complaint. I think you have reacted a little too quickly, in fact, judging from the comments you make.
Firstly, allow me to remind you that I am the person who made the Freedom of Information request to which the DWP’s statistical release is an attempted response and about which all of the media discussion following that release – whether acknowledged or not – is based. I have been dealing with this matter for a little over two years so forgive me if I suggest that I may have a little more authority on the subject than Full Fact, Ben Goldacre or your team. Your opinion of those people is of no interest at all. They have all gone into this from the wrong angle and I am disappointed that you see fit to defend this.
I notice that in your further comments, you are selective about the points I raise and perpetuate certain vague references that were made in the programme. For example: “The figure that the DWP released is only a subset of those who have died…” Why did the DWP only release the figure in that way when the FoI request wanted the full picture? No investigation from your programme and no comment from you. Yet Mr Stephenson says the DWP was asked for information about the irrelevant “within two weeks of being found fit for work” point. Why not do the job properly?
Your comments about people who have been found fit for work are confusing. By virtue of having been refused benefit by the DWP – as I stated before – they are defined by the government as being just as likely (or unlikely) to die as the rest of the non-incapacity-benefit-claiming population. You are making a distinction that is not accepted by the law. Are you saying that the test is wrong to send these people out without benefits, possibly to their deaths? If so, then why not say that on the programme? If not, then what, exactly, are you saying?
This is from Richard Vadon, editor of More or Less, in response to my email earlier today, following up on my complaints about the segment on Radio 4’s More or Less covering the DWP’s release of statistics relating to deaths of claimants of incapacity benefits – published as promised in a previous article.
I am the editor of More or Less and my series producer Wes Stephenson has passed me your complaint.
In your reply to his letter you say that a Full Fact article is discredited, that Ben Goldacre has got the wrong end of the stick and you describe More or Less as making a proper mess of the story. I am full of admiration for the journalism done by Full Fact, Ben Goldacre and for that matter Tim Harford and the More or Less team (although clearly I’m biased in the last case). These are all independent minded and award-winning journalists but your position is that we are all wrong. I’m not sure I can say anything that could change your mind but I will make a few points.
I’m sorry if the reply has confused things about the 2380 deaths but the programme’s script couldn’t be more definite, “We’re clear: these 2380 people were declared fit for work, and then they died”.
The reference to deaths after breakfast is making a simple correlation is not causation point. This is a regular theme in the programme and maybe could have explained in a fuller way. I’m sorry if you find the breakfast point in poor taste.
“the figure you provided is only a fraction of the total number of deaths and you have misled the public. It would have been far better for you to have said that the DWP has provided this figure but we don’t know how many have died after its self-imposed time limits. You didn’t.”
The script does make it clear that the figures released are a subset of those who are died and the true figure is almost certainly higher:
TIM: But we don’t actually have the data we need to say whether something alarming is happening to people we seeking some kind of disability assistance, but who’ve been declared fit for work.
WES: No. We don’t. One of the reasons we don’t is that the figure that the DWP released is only a subset of those who have died after being declared ‘fit for work’ it only includes people who’ve been assessed as fit for work and who are still on Employment Support Allowance – so people who are appealing the decision for example. Those people who had been moved to other benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance and had then died wouldn’t be captured in this figure so the figure is almost certainly higher. So we can’t come up with a proper death rate.
The claim that “the ‘fit for work group” contains a number of people who have an above average chance of dying” is not really contentious. When someone is found fit for work it does not mean they have been found to be in perfect health or even to be of average health.
I was for five years the editor of Money Box and Money Box Live. I saw as the years progressed how we got more and more calls from people struggling with the Disability Benefit system. We covered the story many times and my presenter Paul Lewis always held the authorities to account.
I am currently the editor of a Point of View on Radio 4 and agreed to broadcast this piece on disability benefit just before this year’s election:
I mention my previous history as an editor because I want you to understand that I believe the Government’s changes are an important issue. But I remain convinced by the final thought of the More or Less item that although it should be possible to come up with a much better figure, it’s hard to see how this sort of broad demographic information will ever tell us much about the question at issue – which is whether the test is fair.
I wrote a very quick response which I shall publish shortly. In brief, I thought this was an arrogant response from somebody who considered it beneath him to have to defend his decisions to a member of the public.
This is my reply to Wesley Stephenson (senior producer, BBC Current Affairs) following up on his response to This Writer’s complaint about the segment on Radio 4’s More or Less covering the DWP’s release of statistics relating to deaths of claimants of incapacity benefits – published as promised in a previous article.
Dear Mr Stephenson,
Thank you for your email of September 14 in which you have attempted to defend your programme against my complaints about it. Please accept my apologies for the slight delay in responding – I had to take a step back and calm down a little after reading your comments, and also had to attend to other matters.
On consideration, the most striking element in your response is the claim that your piece “was about the way the press and particularly The Guardian had reported it”. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Guardian piece refers quite clearly to the fact that the DWP released its information in response to Freedom of Information requests. Any reporter worth the name, investigating the veracity of such a report, would naturally look into the nature of those requests, in order to determine the value of the response from the DWP – and only then would they turn to the media reports in order to decide whether they were accurate or not.
What you have done is engage in an extremely offensive game of ‘Chinese whispers’. “The Guardian said this about the DWP figures but we’ve looked at them and they say that.” Of course, none of what you’re saying matters one jot if the DWP’s figures haven’t properly answered the original Freedom of Information request – and they haven’t. The Information Commissioner’s Office is currently investigating why the DWP deliberately failed to follow the terms of the Decision Notice that was issued at the end of April.
What you are telling me is that, rather than investigate the substantive issue, you have chosen to reinforce a distortion that supports the Conservative Government’s line. That is very clear from your reference to the discredited Full Fact article. But even that article mitigates against you, now that the DWP’s own comments have been added in.
They begin: “Once found FFW [Fit For Work] an ESA [Employment and Support Allowance] claim ends” so anybody who died within two weeks of their claim ending, after being declared “Fit For Work” would also die within two weeks of that finding – or as near to that period as makes no difference. In any case, your comment that “We don’t know whether the 2,380 claimants died after being declared “fit for work” is nonsense because the Freedom of Information request – which you didn’t bother to check – specifically wanted “the number of IB and ESA claimants who have died since November 2011 [up to the date of the request, May 28, 2014]. Please break that figure down into the following categories:… b) Those that were found fit for work”. The fact that they died after being declared “fit for work” is the only reason they are mentioned at all.
Your claim that “The ESA claims of 2,380 people with a ‘fit for work’ decision didn’t necessarily end because they were declared ‘fit for work’ but they will have also have ended because they died” is nonsense. The DWP itself stated quite clearly that the claim of anybody with a ‘fit for work’ decision ends immediately that decision is recorded.
You mention that “people will have still been counted as receiving ESA if they had received a FFW decision and had then appealed”, which is a further indication that you really should have read my Freedom of Information request, the Information Commissioner’s decision notice and the DWP’s response. My request goes on to call for figures relating to “those who have had an appeal completed after a Fit for Work decision”. The DWP provides a figure of 1,340 individuals in this category. What we don’t know – because the DWP was, again, deliberately vague about it (and we can say this is deliberate because there was nothing to stop the DWP from clarifying, as it is now being forced to do) – is whether those who appealed are included in the 2,380 or whether they should be added to that number, so those of us who have been checking the figures properly are saying that 2,380 is the minimum number of ESA claimants to have died after being found fit for work, while the maximum is 3,720.
Add in the number of IB/SDA claimants and that figure rises to a maximum of 4,010 incapacity benefits claimants (ask Nick Dilworth about that – I’m on very good terms with him) – but there is a question mark hanging over whether even that may be done, because adding the total number of deaths of people on IB/SDA together with those on ESA produces a greater number of deaths, in the relevant years, than the DWP’s own combined death figure. It seems that, according to the DWP, you can die twice. Would you like to investigate that, perhaps?
Looking back at the DWP’s comments on the Full Fact page brings us to your error in claiming that “people will have still been counted as receiving ESA if they had received a FFW decision and had then appealed”. The DWP states: “anyone who died during a mandatory reconsideration period would not be classed as being in receipt of ESA at the time of death and should therefore not be included in the figures.” THERE IS NOTHING IN MY FOI REQUEST THAT PERMITS THE DWP TO REMOVE THESE CLAIMANTS FROM THE FIGURES. The request calls for the number of claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014, including all those who were found fit for work. Don’t you wish you had checked that? Mandatory Reconsideration was introduced in October 2013 to ensure that claimants who had been found fit for work would have been cut off from ESA while the reconsideration was taking place and would have had no other form of income. How would they have survived? The fact that they were removed from the figures is extremely suspicious. You could have reported this. You didn’t.
“If the claimant goes on to appeal the MR [Mandatory Reconsideration] decision then the ESA claim is reopened,” the DWP continues. This is correct. But we all know that Mandatory Reconsideration was designed to cut down the number of appeals (the question being whether it does so by ensuring the deaths of the claimants) and in any case, as I have already mentioned, there is a further category in my FoI request to cover claimants who have made appeals.
The DWP continues: “Therefore anyone who died during an appeal period (whichever stage of the appeal process they are in) would be classed as being in receipt of ESA at the time of death and would be included in the table 2.3 figures.” If you had asked me, I would have been able to tell you that the relevant part of the original FOI request was for “those who have an appeal pending”. For some reason the DWP did not want to separate this group out from the rest, and asked me to change it to “those who have had an appeal completed after a FFW decision”. You could have asked why the DWP did that. You didn’t.
Let’s have some more of the DWP’s Full Fact reply, as it is relevant to yours: “Yes it is possible that someone may not have appealed the FFW decision and due to time required to update the system they were still in receipt of ESA when they died.” This would, of course, have been within the two-week ‘scan’ period the DWP mentioned but in any case is irrelevant to the terms of the FoI request, which merely required that claimants had died after a FFW decision.
Back to the DWP: “It should also be noted that, as detailed in the publication, the data in tables 2.3 to 2.6 (and table 1) should be viewed with some level of caution as the figures are derived from unpublished information and have not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard.” Quality-assured or not, the information has been published – by the DWP, after a delay of between 15 months and three years and nine months. It is not unreasonable to expect the DWP to have managed some kind of quality assurance during that time – especially as the DWP has spent at least two years assuring members of the public that the figures would be published. Considering the period of time we’re discussing, they could even have provided ASMRs – the ONS provides a very handy methodology for doing just that which means it could have been done overnight and checked within a week. You could have asked about that. You didn’t.
DWP again: “I can confirm that the figures to which you refer include people who died up to 2 weeks after their ESA claim ended i.e. those where death is believed to be the reason for the claim ending, as specified in the publication. The FFW decision may have occurred at any point in the preceding period.” It is interesting that the DWP admits it only published information on “those where death is believed to be the reason for the claim ending”, which was not any part of the terms of my FoI request – or anybody else’s. The DWP was instructed (by the Information Commissioner) to provide information on all claimants who died from the beginning of December 2011 to the end of May 2014, after a FFW decision. The end of the claim – as I keep having to point out – is utterly immaterial.
You can see, therefore, that the Full Fact article is also utterly immaterial to the issues at hand. In fact, considering the fact that it has been quoted by Conservative MPs including the Prime Minister, it is hard to believe any claim that it was not written to support the claims of the Conservative Government and therefore your own reliance on it is also suspicious.
Let’s look at your claim that “at no point did we mention you or make any suggestions about what you were trying to achieve the the FoI request”. In the piece, Mr Harford goes into what he describes as a “subtext” that the claim is unfair – “that the people who are being tested and then pronounced fit to work are either so ill that they promptly die or perhaps the strain of being forced into work has hastened their deaths”. It’s sloppy reporting to say people were being forced into work because – as you should know – the jobs simply aren’t there for them; they were being forced to seek work that, the evidence indicates, they weren’t fit enough to carry out. But that’s a side-issue. The fact that Mr Harford suggests a subtext implies that this was behind the initial request that forced the DWP to publish the figures – whether you mentioned it or not. As I said in my complaint, there was nothing in my request to suggest such a thing; in essence Mr Harford and the More or Less team made it up.
On whether the number of deaths was “bigger than we would expect”, you say “it was fair to give the figure for the number of people receiving ESA who had died, to give a sense of the size of the number that had been reported” – but this figure is not accurate. The request was for the full number of deaths after being found ‘fit for work’ – didn’t I already mention Mark Wood, who died of starvation, months after his own FFW decision? Where does he fit into these DWP statistics? He doesn’t, does he? How many other people like Mr Wood are there, who have been omitted from the figures because their deaths happened after the end of the DWP’s self-imposed claim end date period? Remember, the DWP was asked to include ALL deaths; this shows that the Department chose to omit – how many? I don’t know. I wanted to. The DWP refused to provide that figure in what I understand is “contumelious disregard” of the Information Commissioner’s decision. So the figure you provided is only a fraction of the total number of deaths and you have misled the public. It would have been far better for you to have said that the DWP has provided this figure but we don’t know how many have died after its self-imposed time limits. You didn’t.
Your claim that “the ‘fit for work group’ contains a number of people who have an above average chance of dying” is contentious, to say the least. By definition, people who receive a FFW decision have been told that they are no more likely to die than the average – because they are now to be included among the general population and not among people whose conditions mean they should receive incapacity benefits. Your line, “Just because people are deemed fit for work doesn’t mean they should only have an average chance of death” is unintentionally hilarious. Didn’t you stop to think that ALL the people you mentioned – men, people with lower qualifications and older people – are all included in the wider working-age population who have never claimed incapacity benefits and are therefore among those with an “average” chance of death? I’m a man, and fairly close to the older age range mentioned, but in the nearly-two-weeks since your programme aired, it seems I’ve managed to avoid death. That’s not a miracle.
You mention the Ben Goldacre article, but he got the wrong end of the stick too. DWP didn’t give “the right answer to the wrong question” – it gave the wrong answer to the question it was given.
Now, to return to the second paragraph of your letter, given the number of inaccuracies I have identified above, can you see that the comment that “thousands of people die after breakfast”, in context, was in extremely poor taste? Yes, the piece said that “we know nothing about how or why they died” but stating that “thousands of people die before breakfast” implies – before anything else is even said – that the controversy over these figures is a storm in a teacup. It isn’t.
I think it might be useful to tell you a little about possible future developments. As the DWP’s response to my FoI request was so poor, I have written to the Information Commissioner, requesting enforcement of the terms of the request. The Commissioner is investigating why the DWP has only provided information up to February 2014, rather than May, and also why the DWP – after giving an undertaking to provide the full figures for people who died after being found fit for work, has failed to do so. My suspicion is that the Department will say it did not provide numbers for people who died after its ‘scan’ period because it does not hold them. In that case, why offer them in the first place? The DWP never made any objection to any of the wording of the FoI request, other than that which I’ve already mentioned about appeals pending/concluded.
Finally, you may wish to consider the following, alarming, evidence I received yesterday from the Information Commissioner’s solicitor, who writes: “The Act is only concerned with recorded information and not whether the information which is recorded is accurate, logical or consistent with other information.”
This means, of course, that all of the information provided by the DWP may be complete and utter nonsense – moonshine, intended to confuse and diorientate the public in order to keep us further from the facts. That would explain the discrepancy between the number of deaths recorded for all incapacity claimants and those for IB/SDA and ESA when added together. If you had investigated this matter properly, you might have been able to ask some searching questions about this, too. But you didn’t.
I await your response to this with, I have to admit, diminishing hope. You’ve made a proper mess of it so far.
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