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ESA death statistics may never see light of day

The DWP have launched a last minute appeal against an order by the Information Commissioner that they must publish controversial claimant death statistics. There is now a strong possibility that the figures will never be published.

Employment and support allowance ‘death statistics’ cover the number of ESA claimants who have died soon after being found fit for work, as well as those who died after being placed in the work-related activity group.

esa death statistics tableA previous release of ESA death figures caused such controversy that the DWP have since refused to publish updated statistics.

The decision by the Information Commissioner to order publication more recent figures was made in February of this year. But it was withheld for months, before finally being sent on 30 April to the DWP and to Mike Sivier, the campaigning blogger who has been pursuing the figures for years.

The DWP had 28 days in which to submit an appeal to a freedom of information tribunal, which they did yesterday with less than two hours to spare.

Unfortunately, this is far from the final stage in the proceedings if the DWP are determined to avoid publication. If they lose at the tribunal they can then go on to the high court, the court of appeal and the supreme court.

In addition, the government are now considering changing the law to give ministers an unchallengeable power to veto any freedom of information disclosure they choose.

The move comes after ministers were obliged by the supreme court in March of this year to publish the so called ‘black spider’ letters Prince Charles wrote to government ministers.

Even without such an absolute veto, however, successive governments resisted the Guardian for 10 years and spent £400,000 of taxpayers cash on legal fees in resisting the original freedom of information request.

Given that there unlikely to be anyone with pockets deep enough to take the DWP all the way to the supreme court to get these figures released, it seems certain the DWP can prevent their publication if they choose.

Read more on this in Mike Sivier’s Vox Political blog

Comments  

#10 Drizzle 2015-06-05 11:59
Quoting Florrie:
The first thing is to write to your MP, and push hard. Then write to local papers, as these are always read by the offices of MPs and MEPs. We can all do this. Remember to include your full address & postcode on any letters to MPs, including emails to their constituency offices.

But Mike Sivier over on Vox Politics blog has worked tirelessly to progress the FoI to get these figures. As an independent journalist he is trying to get this out to the press, and he is also in great need of funds to continue this campaign, as he is a carer to his disabled partner. Even just visiting his blog and clicking through an advert will generate income, even if you don't purchase anything. His blog is one of the most widely read in the UK and you may find links to many more bloggers & campaigners, and news sites that will be of great interest.


Thanks for the excellent suggestions Florrie.

I've already visited Vox Politics and will donate. We need to pull together on this as there are very few willing to join us in the battle. We must not give up.
+1 #9 Florrie 2015-06-04 11:59
I disagree with B&W on this - we need act to get these figures released, not to assume we've lost the fight without trying.

The first thing is to write to your MP, and push hard. Then write to local papers, as these are always read by the offices of MPs and MEPs. We can all do this. Remember to include your full address & postcode on any letters to MPs, including emails to their constituency offices.

But Mike Sivier over on Vox Politics blog has worked tirelessly to progress the FoI to get these figures. As an independent journalist he is trying to get this out to the press, and he is also in great need of funds to continue this campaign, as he is a carer to his disabled partner. Even just visiting his blog and clicking through an advert will generate income, even if you don't purchase anything. His blog is one of the most widely read in the UK and you may find links to many more bloggers & campaigners, and news sites that will be of great interest.
#8 Paul Richards 2015-06-04 11:53
Hi all,
This is a good idea and again, in principle I would also support it as I am sure the most of all others on here would as well. (Ref fighterpilot & tazman)
There HAS somehow to be a way to start to fight back against what this cruel and arrogant Government (& IDS etc) are doing to people across the whole of GB (most of whom have little or no say on what actually happens to them because of their policies).
Again, in my own personal opinion, although London is the 'hub' of it all - it nevertheless affects everywhere else in Britain and it would be good if these other areas could be covered as well.
There is news today of a judicial hearing brought by a back bencher Tory & a back bencher Labour MP who are trying to bring a case to fight the acquisition and retention of data on ALL people across the UK (via the internet) after this was 'rushed through Parliament' in July of last year) - with the two MPs using Human Rights Act legislation to try to get it overturned.
I also agree with tazman that the TV (and Newspapers) could possibly play a much more proactive role in all of this - IF they could be persuaded to do so!!
If something is not eventually done about all of this, then there could be a lot more more unavoidable suffering and deaths to come in the future. And then, - still, shamefully NO-ONE at all is accountable for it!
+1 #7 tazman 2015-06-03 23:19
Quote:
Ask every member of B&W for a £ donation. Hopefully enough would be accumulated to pay for a big bill board ad displaying the relevant information as close to Houses of Parliament as possible. Or maybe it could pay for advertising banners on London buses. DWP, IDS and his cronies would be hard pushed not to notice it and address the fallout that ensued. I'd happily donate and I bet not one member would say 'NO'
I agree in principle, but advertising banners? All that lot in HP don't need to be told what's going on and how many people rushing around London look at adverts, unless there is some eye candy to attract their attention. And why does everything have to be about London?! The general public in the whole of the country need to know how we are being treated.

I would donate to help bring this to the attention of the masses, but I think TV and social media would be the best way. TV is controlled by mates of the government and I'm too frightened of twitter, facebook etc. due to my crazy/scared/pa ranoid brain.
+1 #6 fighterpilot 2015-06-03 20:03
Ask every member of B&W for a £ donation. Hopefully enough would be accumulated to pay for a big bill board ad displaying the relevant information as close to Houses of Parliament as possible. Or maybe it could pay for advertising banners on London buses. DWP, IDS and his cronies would be hard pushed not to notice it and address the fallout that ensued. I'd happily donate and I bet not one member would say 'NO'
+2 #5 Drizzle 2015-06-02 18:16
Quoting Paul Richards:
Very true - the figures must be absolutely appalling and really the only hope now is to get the more sympathetic parts of the media involved in this in the hope that it could be exposed at last. Also social media could perhaps play a part too.


Quoting tazman:
We could possibly get organisations like 38 degrees involved.


How do we go about exposing this? It needs some organisation.
+2 #4 Chris 2015-05-31 13:27
What about the families publishing the results of HM Coroner Courts of deaths, if autopsy shows death from starvation ie whoe body bereft any morsel of food that takes many days.

A verdict of Accidental Death might also show the ESA fit for work caused the death.

There are no sympathetic parts of the media, which have a total blackout on austerity cuts protests and talk all the same about poverty porn.

The poor, able bodied or not and pensioners, have been thoroughly demonised.

But the figures might be of political worth to get the Tories out of power, but not in helping the individuals hit with no food money.

If you can find BOGOFs in your local supermarket, then this can be shared with poor family members. The supermarkets are getting enough profit. Volunteer, donate, be a business that supports projects to feed the starving. There should be NIL surplus food going to landfill.

Belgium has law that now France has passed, that all surplus edible food has to be given to food charities. All of it.

But a lot of the surplus food happens further back in food manufacturing.

Millions of tonnes of edible surplus food is lost to energy from waste companies and landfill.

Now that is the real scandal.
+5 #3 tazman 2015-05-29 23:18
We could possibly get organisations like 38 degrees involved. They are always sending me petitions to sign and they really push me to do more. If I could, I would, but have donated a couple of quid to help good causes.
+5 #2 Paul Richards 2015-05-29 14:47
Hi tintack
Very true - the figures must be absolutely appalling and really the only hope now is to get the more sympathetic parts of the media involved in this in the hope that it could be exposed at last. Also social media could perhaps play a part too.
+8 #1 tintack 2015-05-29 13:48
If the DWP is going to go to such lengths to prevent the public knowing the truth, the only thing we can do is contact broadcasters and the more sympathetic parts of the press and ask them to cover this story. The more of us do so the better. The very fact that they're fighting tooth and nail to prevent publication confirms what we suspected, i.e. the figures are shameful and will be a huge embarrassment if published. If the DWP won't publish them even when ordered to do so, only the sustained pressure of media attention is likely to have an effect.

I know it's easy to assume that we can't do anything about this, and that the media won't be interested, but we may as well try. If we do nothing, we know the DWP will get away with it. But if we try to make our voice heard and get the media to cover the story, there is at least a chance we might have an effect. What have we got to lose?

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