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DWP fails to meet Information Commissioner deadline for possible benefit related deaths

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Paul_Treloar_CPAG
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In some rather feisty exchanges during topical questions during the Work and Pensions questions yesterday, we heard the following:

22 Jun 2015 : Column 611 T5. [900470] Marie Rimmer (St Helens South and Whiston) (Lab): Following the shameful failure of the Front-Bench team once again to answer a question today, may I ask again why the Government are refusing to publish—even though the Information Commissioner has instructed them to do so—the up-to-date statistics relating to the number of people who have died, having been found fit for work at their face-to-face assessment?

Mr Duncan Smith: I find it absurd that Opposition Members deliberately try to misrepresent what happens under such schemes. I remind the hon. Lady that it was her Government who introduced the employment support allowance and the work capability assessment, and at no stage did they say that that led to people committing suicide. People in that situation are often in a very delicate and difficult position, and I find it disgraceful that she is going round making such allegations.

T7. [900472] Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): My hon. Friend the Member for St Helens South and Whiston (Marie Rimmer) is right. Given that on 5 June the High Court found the Department’s actions—this time on PIP delays—unlawful, does the Secretary of State think that he and his Department are above the law? Why does he refuse to publish the details of the number of people who have died within six weeks of their claims for incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance, including those who have been found fit for work?

Mr Duncan Smith: As I said to the hon. Member for St Helens South and Whiston (Marie Rimmer), I find it unbelievable that she, the hon. Lady and others have spent all their time trying to make allegations about people going about their work. [Interruption.] She knows very well that the Department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance. It deals with individual

22 Jun 2015 : Column 612

cases where things have gone right or gone wrong and reviews them. It is a crying shame that Labour Members want to go out every day scaring and frightening people. It is no wonder they lost the election.

Which is a slightly peculiar response from the Secretary of State, given this news story from Disability News Service which was published last Friday and which revealed that:

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has ignored a deadline imposed by the information watchdog, as part of its investigation into DWP’s refusal to publish secret reviews into 49 benefit-related deaths.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched the investigation in March, following DWP’s failure to provide information about the 49 reviews requested by Disability News Service (DNS).

But the ICO has now contacted DNS to say that it has made no progress with its investigation because DWP missed its deadline for submitting evidence.

As I believe the right-leaning members of the House are often fond of stating, if you’ve got nothing to hide, then you’ve surely got nothing to fear from being open and transparent?

Andrew Dutton
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Welfare rights service - Derbyshire County Council

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You sir are clearly an ill-fitting anorak dancing on the head of a pin! Disgraceful alligators!If the ICO has made no progress it is because there is no progress to make! You will find the courts have backed our policy to the hilt! Outrageous guanacoes! You over there, come out of that spaceship and fight like a man!! (etc etc etc)

Daphne
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From the politics home page just now -

‘Marie Rimmer wants to know how the PM’s transparency agenda matches with the DWP’s “refusal to release statistics” on the deaths of those who have died despite being deemed fit for work.
Cam has a pretty straightforward answer. Which is something of a surprise:
“This data will be published and is being prepared for publication as we speak…this government has published more data about public spending than any previous government.”

- See more at: https://www.politicshome.com/party-politics/articles/story/pmqs-live-2#sthash.JlrF5oU7.dpuf

John Birks
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2 things:

1: Produce data to show the DWP are so bad at ‘getting it right’ then it has to go which leads to the privatisation of the administration of benefits. Effectively doing an Atos - it’s not us, it’s them.

2: ‘No reason for people to be fearful’ - Wasn’t that an Ian Dury hit?

Owen Stevens
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Dan_Manville
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and yesterday at PMQs it was announced that they were preparing the data for imminent publication!

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/24/benefit-related-deaths-david-cameron-dwp

Mike Hughes
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We need to be realistic about this. The flaws in the data are going to make it very hard to use it to bolster the anecdotal evidence we all know is true without losing credibility. I think we could anticipate that, even if meaningful data were to be published, DWP would trumpet it as a triumph that considerably more people came through unscathed and alive than died. This is really about keeping the issue in the news rather than something suddenly making news. My question would then be, if the intent is to keep such deaths in the news, and that issue does manage to get some legs, then what’s the next move? Has this been thought through?

Benny Fitzpatrick
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Is anybody aware of impending publication, as promised “imminently” by Mr Cameron? Maybe he needs another prod from the information Commissioner!

shawn mach
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information commissioner holds that DWP does not need to release details

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/watchdog-backs-dwp-refusal-to-release-49-benefit-deaths-reports/

Benny Fitzpatrick
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Another triumph for the democratic system?

shawn mach
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Urgent Commons Question earlier:

‘To ask the Prime Minister to make a statement on his commitment of 24 June to publish Department for Work and Pensions data on the number of people in receipt of employment and support allowance and incapacity benefit who have died since November 2011, including those found fit for work.’

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/217/

shawn mach
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Just came across this paper deposited in the Commons library on 21 July:

Managing Customer Declarations of Intention to Attempt Suicide or Self Harm

MaggieZed
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Release the stats petition

My petition which sparked off the above exchanges in parliament is asking for transparency, so that the issue of people dying after benefits have been stopped can be debated. I do not know if this information will make anything any clearer but never the less,  it should be in the public domain.
Published in December 2014, Citizens Advice stated they saw
“8,530 people about mandatory reconsideration from Jan – June 2014.
2,740 (32%) of these people also reported being left without funds due to their reconsideration. If we were to extrapolate this to the 90,500 Mandatory Reconsideration requests over the same time period this would suggest that:
Up to 28,960 people were left without funds”
In the 2015 March edition of Touchbase stated that the average time for clearing MR’s is 13days.  Looking at the stats provided I have come up with these figures
92,040 requests were cleared within 14days while 84,960 request were not.
40,710 took 15-30days AND 44,250 took over 30days
The report does not state how many of these people claimed JSA
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mandatory-reconsiderations-of-dwp-benefit-decisions-data-to-october-2014
There does not appear to be anything since this date. 
Please would you post any examples of bad practice and client experiences on the thread below, so that when these stats are released there is up to date anecdotal evidence to support the figures.
http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/5586/P75
Mandatory Reconsideration. Bad practice/maladministration/denied appeal rights - examples.

 

 

shawn mach
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MaggieZed
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A date has also been set for the Appeal hearing against the release of the stats which is November 11th.
Mike Sivier the originator of the FOI request gives his analysis of the situation here

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/08/19/date-set-for-tribunal-hearing-over-benefit-related-deaths/

MaggieZed
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