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49 claimant deaths – evidence of DWP negligence cover-up grows

Evidence that the DWP are involved in a cover-up over their own negligence in connection with the death of 49 claimants is growing. Private sector work programme providers may also be implicated in the deaths.

Disability News Service discovered last year that the DWP had carried out secret reviews into the deaths of 49 claimants. The DWP have refused to publish details of those reviews.

In June of this year Benefits and Work made a freedom of information request asking:

a) How many of the 49 claimants whose deaths were peer reviewed were ESA claimants who were, or had recently been, on the work programme.

b) How many of these were deemed to be vulnerable claimants in relation to ‘safeguarding’ procedures.

We asked these questions because the DWP had recently issued reminders to work programme providers about the safeguarding procedures, implying that they were not being properly followed. The procedures should ensure that all ESA claimants with mental health conditions receive home visits when threatened with sanctions.

However, in a response received today the DWP admit that they hold this information but they are refusing to hand it over. Their grounds for refusing are:

“The Department considers this to be confidential information about our clients gathered by civil servants in the course of their duties. This being the case Section 123 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (SSAA) prohibits the release of such information. As the SSAA is prior legislation this engages Section 44 of the FOI Act making the information ineligible for release under the terms of that Act. As section 44 is an absolute exemption the Department has no duty to consider where the public interest lies.”

This is, of course, a nonsense response. We are asking the DWP to provide us with two numbers such as:

a) 12

b) 4

These are statistics, not confidential information and there is no possibility whatsoever of client confidentiality being breached by providing two numbers.

The grounds the DWP are using are the same ones they have successfully used to refuse to release anonymised versions of the 49 reports. But in this case all we were asking for is those two numbers.

The fact that the DWP are refusing to give the information very strongly suggests that at least some of the claimants who died were indeed vulnerable ESA work programme participants and that the proper safeguarding rules were not followed.

If this was not the case then it is very hard to see why the DWP would refuse to release the information and claim public interest immunity.

We have asked for a review of the DWP’s decision and we will pursue this issue as far as we possibly can.

In the meantime, the suspicion that the DWP are involved in a cover-up that involves both the department and private sector providers in what may even be corporate manslaughter is only going to gather momentum.


+1 #9 Chris 2015-08-28 13:26
The death figure's have been released with a predictable muted response by the BBC, who seem more interested in reporting foreign affairs, rather than home truths; Still, it is a milestone in potential justice. 90 people a week! perhaps more, yes, a shameful illustration of IDS's collateral damage to further his ideology. The families of those deceased must no doubt be distressed at this revelation. It may only take one of these grieving relatives to persuade a causal effect to their relatives death too Welfare Reform. Or, more accurately, the potential liability of ATOS et al. A Coroners verdict of attributable cause will be the trigger that will enable justice to take it's course, and damn those responsible for their abhorrent actions.
+1 #8 Paul Richards 2015-08-16 14:29
And another one for your scrutiny!
THESE are the REAL scroungers in Britain today! Shameful!


Meanwhile, please do not forget to sign the petition (in a vote of no confidence in IDS). It is 17279 at the moment - still a long way to get to 200,000 but it is definitely 'doable'!
Tell your family, friends, facebook, twitter etc, etc. Every one counts!
It can be found by going to:

+1 #7 Paul Richards 2015-08-14 20:07
Hi all,
And another one!

+1 #6 Paul Richards 2015-08-12 09:53
Hi Chris: yes many thanks.
Hi everyone:
Two new stories have hit the headlines this morning (apart from the 'rising' unemployment and lower average wages as well!



Both are worth taking a look at!
+1 #5 Chris 2015-08-08 22:10
[quote name="Paul Richards"]Hi all,
Firstly - Chris, - your's is a really good idea. It could be a precedent!

Hi Paul, This may become a precedent, an easy method for public communicating this is through a freedom of Info :-


To request if DWP / Attorney General, have examined & noted the "Prior Notice of Liability" and send them a copy. ie,:-

"A Potential Liability, exists due to actions or inaction, taken in a Public Office contrary to 'Duty of Care', namely, Welfare Reform. that causes or may cause harm to others, as a result of such action, and further, that data has been - is being withheld or manipulated, that may account / prove reckless actions, and those actions should be considered in the light of this notification".

The more requests, the greater the pressure.
+1 #4 Paul Richards 2015-08-08 17:39
Hi all,
Firstly - Chris, - your's is a really good idea. It could be a precedent!
And next - this makes interesting reading - something really needs to be done regarding this unfettered IDS/Welfare Reform cruelty.

+2 #3 Iamawindsurfer 2015-07-31 09:57
ESA WRAG claimants aren't being properly supported. It is all a box ticking exercise which is strict procedure. The trouble is that the 'procedures' are so limiting that there is no room for manouvre. This is distressing which leads to depression. Even having to feel scapegoats under the diminishing language used since inception is in itself horrible. It has to change. Wheel in respect. Wheel out narrow perceptions.
+2 #2 Chris 2015-07-30 17:44
If you really want to make these people & organisations accountable :-
Legal precedent is already set on 'Duty of Care' any person can, advise,

To :- IDS & his Agents;
That a, Prior Notice of Potential Liability, exists due to actions or inaction, taken in a Public Office, namely, Welfare Reform. that causes or may cause harm to others, as a result of such action, and further, that data has been - is being withheld or manipulated, that may account / prove reckless actions, and those actions should be considered in the light of this notification.

Sign & Date it, and send a copy to-
CC Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, MP. Houses of Parliament

This can be such a notice from any member/s of the public, affected or not. Prior Notice can not be ignored, & removes any person's / organisations mitigation, or exemption for subsequent liability.

Given that data has been - is being withheld or manipulated, that may account / prove reckless actions, and those actions are, or should have been considered in the light of notification by Prior Notice, then liability for those actions then exists without mitigation. In the same way continuing with such actions, then places a Strict Liability on those responsible. This, would come about in the event that 'any' future court considered the action a contributory factor, which is, inevitable.
Perhaps several readers could action this by writing the above example and keeping copies to present, should the originals get lost!
+2 #1 naheegan 2015-07-30 01:42
I am very grateful to B&W for making the initial request, asking for a review of the DWP’s decision and following the matter to hopefully a release of information. And further, that release of information will result in accountability and policy changes that will not result a repeat of circumstances for future claimants.
It cannot be right that any of this matter be resigned to a historical footnote, or be allowed to be buried under a mountain of bureaucratic obfuscation. It does seem indicative of wrong-doing that a legitimate statistical request is being met with such resistance.

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