DWP quietly ditches stats on benefits deaths


by Sunny Hundal    
3:40 pm - July 11th 2013

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The DWP has quietly decided to ditch statistics it used to collect on the number of deaths of recipients of incapacity benefits (now ESA) and its predecessors Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA).

It is thought the numbers of deaths has sharply increased since the Coalition government’s severe cuts to social security benefits.

But to ensure that deaths aren’t cited as evidence of failure of the changes, the DWP won’t be collecting and updating its statistics.

Blogger Samuel Miller, who is the former editor and publisher of Disabled Writers’ Quarterly, wrote to IDS a few months ago:

Dear Mr. Smith,

On November 6, 2012 I wrote to your department regarding the number of Incapacity Benefit claimants who had died that year. I pointed out that “Incapacity Benefits: Death of Recipients (9 July 2012)” http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/adhoc_analysis/2012/incap_decd_recips_0712.pdf was outdated, as it only provided mortality statistics up to November 2011.

Ten days later, I received the following response from Mr. Goff Daft, who is the head of your correspondence team: https://docs.google.com/file/d/1J2tNRtgghJAcjnmV-6dDClFLcP0-PbvB2HYAd3zh_TLyYDecfDloaq8N6lsU/edit?usp=sharing

On April 20, 2013 I queried Mr. David Green (ESA Analysis), the compiler of “Incapacity Benefits: Death of Recipients”, about the release date for the next report. And I also queried you on June 18, 2013 regarding the same.

He then got this reply:

Dear Mr Miller,

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.

Regards,
DWP ESA Analysis

Mr Miller now intends to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office over DWP transparency. More on the story at his blog.

The last updated document from the DWP on these deaths is here.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


A classic case of if they can’t see the damage being done, don’t hear about the damage being done, then they can claim there is no damage being done.

Rather like the US in Iraq, Irritating Dick Syndrome clearly seems to think that if you don’t ‘do’ body counts, then there are ipso facto no bodies to count.

(Is there really someone in the DWP called ‘Goff Daft’?)

So let’s start gathering them ourselves. Where to send them though…

Mike Sivier (Midwalesmike) has done an FOI on this subject and has been refused too. Something very not right – well I was going to say here but the whole operation of the DWP is bent. When are the police going to be investigating the Unum connection?

5. jeffery davies

did you think that they would allow this infor into the world nah they be called rotten if they did has more die daily has of their policys jeff3

6. Raman Wickramasinge

Universal Credit is fucked too. The supposed national roll out for all new claimants next October has been scaled down to twelve Jobcentres taking claims only from single people with no children (excluding people with families, the self-employed, and all other categories of claim). While Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith cut benefits to the poor and turn them out of their home via the bedroom tax the government has wasted £12 billion on Universal Credit (so far, was supposed to be £2 billion all in) and over £2 billion on the Work Programme (which, statistically, is little better than doing nothing).

The train crash has begun to happen.

Many of us told you so.

For the acronym impaired could someone define DWP?

Surely the ‘reforms’ are having the desired effect, then? They are slowly killing the disabled, but they don’t want the general public to find out. I bet the vermin have the data in Tory central office though. No point in spreading that much misery without letting your clients and supporters getting in on the deal.

Every decent person needs to ask why the Tories are lying to them.

I’d like to know a little more about this information. Does it mean they’ve stopped collecting the information now – in which case my FOI request will be unaffected as it is for 2012? Or are they binning everything – in which case they open themselves up to criminal investigation as the only possible reason for doing so would be to hide criminality?

I have indeed made a FOI request about this – it was refused on the grounds that it was “vexatious” because I wrote about it on Vox Political and included a one-line afterthought at the end to the effect that others should do the same. To the DWP Minister who made the decision on the request, that constitutes a “website based campaign” to “harass the DWP”. I believe that person may hold a minority viewpoint somehow…

If any of you saw the Work and Pensions Committee information session on Wednesday afternoon, or have read any transcripts of it, Dame Anne Begg was referring to my case when she asked about “vexatious” FOI requests.

I’ve requested an internal review, and obviously the officials at the info session have promised to look at it also. If the answer is still no, there will be an appeal to the Information Commissioner.

10. Steve Connolly

My FOI was denied yesterday too. The DWP regarded it as vexatious in nature because:

? Compliance would create a significant burden in terms of expense and distraction
? The request has the effect of harassing DWP or causing distress to staff.

So my request is denied under terms which are ridiculous, but which provide the DWP a legal loophole in which to dump data which harms them. Cheats and liars all!

The death rates cannot be made public as it would involve the police just as Stafford Hospital scandal A criminal investigation took place for the 1200 deaths

for the government to release the true death figures for the welfare reform would involve a criminal investigation but this time at the governments door a very big difference from the staff at the hospital

There is nothing one can do if the DWP will not release the figures and the mp’s and police turn a blind eye end of story as there is no one else to contact it’s all been done

Well i for one would love to know the stats, would love to see this story hit mainstream media(but will not hold my breath) and watch them grilled on the news or in the house.
I know from where i live the harm and distress the goverment approach is causing, to vulnerable people.
As for the divisive rhetoric they use, from a bunch of people from such privileged they really ought to feel ashamed.

My partner has very bad problems at the minute, rectal cancer, oestomy bag fitted in Jan and a fistulea which all happened so quick this January 13. He worked silly shifts and silly hrs before all this so a tax payer. July 13 he has just only got 2 benefit payments, i myself have mental health issues so luckily we got an adult social services worker in this week so we are now on our way to the help needed but why as is taken so long? We have 3 school age children too.

14. Martin Jamerson

Looks like the information regarding what appears to be A Silent Genocide is being suppressed.

The truth is really hurtful and damaging !

15. dawn davies

That sounds about right,dropping anything which will put them in a bad light,surely this type of behaviour is treasonable,I wonder if they do this in regards to letting our Queen know what is being done with her people. I find it astonishing that they can blame all on benefits being utter scroungers,the disabled and sick cannot and should not be treated this way. Yes there are benefit cheats around but not as many as this government is stating,and most who are are mainly non UK citizens. What most people don’t know is that the sick and disabled have to go through the hoop with Doctors and specialists in order to get any benefit in the first place,they even have to go to a place to be assessed in their areas. This country is heading for a breakdown in society,this government should be in the tower,they want lots of money,use their connections to gain even more money,they drink and use drugs within the government building and have paid off people in power to keep out of jail. Its like living in the middle ages where power goes to the rich only

could the European parliament, or some group like amnesty get the figures?


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