More than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to publish statistics into the number of benefit claimants who have died after benefits were removed.
The number of signatories is growing fast and could force the government to come clean about the impact of welfare reforms on vulnerable people.
A number of attempts by journalists and campaigners, using the Freedom of Information Act, to force the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to publish the statistics have been rebuffed.
The government argues that drawing a direct link between the deaths of seriously ill people and the removal of benefits would be irresponsible.
Welfare Weekly reported last month that the DWP had been ordered by the Information Commissioner to disclose details into deaths related to welfare reforms, following a complaint by political blogger Mike Sivier. It is our understanding that this is currently being appealed by the DWP.
The petition, on the change.org website, claims that this appeal is a direct attempt by the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to block publication of benefit-related death statistics.
Today I came across two articles, once again calling into question the behaviour of Politicians and Government Departments when using statistics; it is clear from these that “Once again, DWP has shown itself to be a master in statistics manipulation and in the use of selective figures” this was on sanctions; and on pay and living costs “an act of statistical trickery to change the landscape of pay bargaining in the UK for the worse.”
This persistent misuse of data and the ensuing Spin’ fed to the media by the likes of IDS, is precisely what we have been saying this for the past 2 years; and it is the reason for our petition TO: KATHRYN HUDSON PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONER FOR STANDARDS to :
“Use the full Powers of the Commission and investigate Iain Duncan Smith Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for his regular use…
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Crucial statistics on the effects of the governments welfare reforms will be deliberately delayed until after the election, to prevent academics and campaigners discovering the effects of policies such as the bedroom tax, changes to disability living allowance and employment and support allowance and increased sanctions.
The Households Below Average Income figures will be two and a half years out of date by the time of the election.
Complaints about the delay in publication were made to Iain Duncan Smith as long ago as last September, but with no effect. IDS has also continued to refuse to meet with the Trussell Trust to discuss food poverty.
Dawn Foster, writing in the Guardian argues that:
“Academic annoyances aside, the impact of this delay on the political debate around welfare in the election is huge. Cuts to welfare provision have been a flagship policy of the coalition government, and the belief that the answer to unemployment and poverty is to cut off financial support looks to be a mainstay of the Conservatives’ campaign until 7 May. But the official statistics all parties rely on to make their arguments will be two-and-a-half-years out of date, and completely useless as a measure of how the coalition’s welfare changes have affected poverty rates. The raft of changes that heralded the start of the 2013 financial year are hidden from official statistics until votes have been cast.”
Source – Benefits & Work, 18 Feb 2015
We’ve now suffered through the Lies from Esther McVey Wednesday 04 February 2015 9:30 AM on “benefit sanctions policy” , with her ‘assurances’ there are “categorically no targets set on how many claimants should be sanctioned”‘
Refuted yesterday offered more evidence that contradicts McVey with the DWP recruiting an extra 1600 Benefit Sanctions Decision Makers since taking office!; They support these statistics with the comment “Whilst the DWP continually says it has no Benefit Sanctions Targets, despite irrefutable evidence, this view now seems even more implausible since today it published statistics that it show they nearly trebled the number of sanction decision makers?”
Lets not forget All these #Sanctions are made by unqualified people ” there are no specific external qualifications required for the decision making role. All Decision Makers go through a training programme that supports the individual in their role. The Decision Maker consolidates this learning with…
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In this my last post before the festivities kick in I want to take a look at a quick overview of the Truth Campaign and our reasons for pursuing it.
It all began on April 14 2013, when Debbie Sayers and I wrote an open letter, to Esther McVey regarding her persistent misuse of facts and statistics, we sent this with over 800 signatures, including 4 MPs, a month later. On the back of this, we started our first petition (27/5/13) to the Work & Pensions Committee demanding they :Hold IDS to account for his use of statistics.
We eventually received a response from the DWP correspondence team to our letter, which failed to even acknowledge the questions we had asked, but she did reply to Michael Meacher and Tim Loughton MPs, who had supported our letter with the same reply.
By June 12 our first petition had hit the magic 100,000 signatures…
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