Jonathan Bartley (@jon_bartley) on Twitter
I don’t know if any of you watched the welfare debate on BBC 2 yesterday, in which members of Labour, Conservatives, UKIP, Greens and Lib Dems discussed their manifesto for welfare.
At 13 minutes and 50 seconds into the debate, Johnathan Bartley (Green Party spokesperson) challenges IDS on the DWP peer reviews into suicides of claimants and the delay in providing death statistics via a Freedom of Information (FoI) request. (although not mentioned by name, he is referring to Mike Sivier over at the Vox Political blog who requested this information – you can read more about his FoI “journey” here)
IDS, as I am sure you can imagine, was his usual charming self, calling Mr Bartley all sorts.
The Green Party today published this article on its’ website;
The Green Party has requested that Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work…
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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been ordered to disclose details into deaths related to coalition welfare reforms, it has been revealed.
DWP officials have been told that they must disclose the number of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014.
The ruling was made by the information commissioner following a formal complaint from blogger Mike Sivier, who runs and operates the website Vox Political.
So far, the DWP has refused to publish details into at least 49 benefit related deaths it has admitted to have investigated.
In his ruling, the Commissioner states:
“It appears … that the DWP has had reasonable time to prepare for publishing [the] information and that disclosure was not so novel or unusual given the previous requests and disclosures made.
“DWP have not supplied any detailed or convincing evidence about the time needed and what preparation would need to be undertaken during this time or what the specific impact of disclosure would be… The DWP has previously published similar information.”
The decision notice continued:
“It is not reasonable for the DWP, having had enough time to extract the information and prepare internally for publication, to seek further time to provide the information requested.
“The Commissioner also finds that delaying publication is not reasonable in light of the requests DWP have received from the public and the fact that the previous statistics published were around two years old at the time of the request.”
Mr Sivier said he had first asked for information on benefit-related deaths in the summer of 2013:
“It was almost a year after the DWP had published an ‘ad hoc’ report entitled Incapacity Benefits (Deaths of Claimants).
“That document stated that 10,600 people had died between January and November 2011, while claiming benefits that should have helped them survive with a reasonable quality of life.
“Some of those people may have died because of their conditions, but evidence that has become available since suggests that many died due to the stress of constant reassessment by an unsympathetic government department that was determined to clear as many people off its books as possible, no matter what the health risks might be.”
“I knew that other FOI requests had been made in November 2012 – a year after the last date covered in the ‘ad hoc’ report – but they had been refused.
“When I made my request in June 2013, I publicised it via my website, Vox Political, and asked for others to submit a similar request in the hope that weight of numbers might sway the DWP. This was a mistake as the department was able to use FOI rules to dismiss my request as being ‘vexatious’.
“I made a new request last May, and the DWP illegally delayed its response by several months. When ministers finally denied me the information, claiming they would be publishing it at an unspecified date in the future, I checked the rules and found that they were wrong. That is why I appealed to the Information Commissioner – and I am delighted that the Commissioner has upheld my appeal.”
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the DWP may appeal to the Information Rights Tribunal, but Mr Sivier said he doubted any such appeal would succeed:
“I took my first request to a tribunal and, although the decision was upheld, the judges stated that they were extremely sympathetic to my cause”, he said.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 02 May 2015
The numbers speak for themselves: Under ‘Adequacy of safety-net benefits’, EVERY SINGLE INCOME GROUP has lost out. While others have suffered a great percentage drop, single working-age people remain the least able to make ends meet.
“How much money do you need for an adequate standard of living?”
That is the question posed every year by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – and every year the organisation calculates how much people have to earn – taking into account their family circumstances, the changing cost of these essentials and changes to the tax and benefit system – to reach this benchmark.
A lone parent with one child now needs to earn more than £27,100 per year – up from £12,000 in 2008. A couple with two children need to earn more than £20,200 each, compared to £13,900 each in 2008. Single working-age people must now earn more…
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Around three-quarters of the way through tonight’s Question Time, I was ready to believe the BBC had pulled a fast one on us and we weren’t going to see Iain Duncan Smith get the well-deserved comeuppance that he has managed to avoid for so long in Parliament and media interviews.
There was plausible deniability for the BBC – the Isis crisis that has blown up in Iraq is extremely topical and feeds into nationwide feeling about the possibility of Britain going to war again in the Middle East. The debate on extremism in Birmingham schools is similarly of public interest – to a great degree because it caused an argument between Tory cabinet ministers. Those are big issues at the moment and the BBC…
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The Fail has struck again with a comically inaccurate piece about benefit appeal tribunals.
“Benefits claimants cheats (sic) are able to keep money they are not entitled to because government officials fail to turn up to legal hearings,” thundered the piece by MailOnline political editor Matt Chorley, who should know better – both in terms of grammar and logic.
“The Department for Work and Pensions sent lawyers to just four per cent of tribunals held last year to rule on decisions to cut benefits.
“It means that in many cases people are able to successfully argue in favour of keeping their money, because the government has failed to turn up to challenge it.”
No – that’s not what it means.
If the DWP has made a decision not to send lawyers to defend the cancellation of a claimant’s benefit, it means they expect the facts to speak for themselves…
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The Sunday Times Rich List has confirmed what some of us have been saying for years – that Austerity has funnelled Britain’s money into the hands of a very few, very selfish people.
The 1,000 richest Britons now own one-third of the nation’s gross domestic product, with their combined wealth rising from last year’s total of £449,654,000,000 to £518,975,000,000.
That’s an increase of 15.4 per cent, an average rise of £69,321,000 each and an average income of 518,975,000.
Average wages in the UK are stagnant at around £26,500, with average pay for the lowest earners having fallen by 14 per cent since David Cameron’s Tory government got its nose in the trough in 2010.
There are only two points to make from this.
Firstly, bearing in mind Gary Barlow’s recent appearances in the news for taking part in a tax avoidance scheme: How many of these 1,000 very rich people…
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I’d go into it in detail but, in the spirit of the saying that a picture can tell a story better than a thousand words, let’s just have a look at this graph instead (courtesy of @UKJCP on Twitter).
By my reckoning, somebody’s calculations started to go seriously amiss in November 2012.
What do you think has happened?
And who do you think is to blame?
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Why are the mainstream media so keen to make you think falling inflation means your wages will rise?
There is absolutely no indication that this will happen.
If you are lucky, and the drop in inflation (to 1.7 per cent) affects things that make a difference to the pound in your pocket, like fuel prices, groceries and utility bills, then their prices are now outstripping your ability to pay for them at a slightly slower rate. Big deal.
The reports all say that private sector wages are on the way up – but this includes the salaries of fatcat company bosses along with the lowest-paid office cleaners.
FTSE-100 bosses all received more pay by January 8 than average workers earn in a year. Their…
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[Image: Redpepper] What follows is intelligent, adroit and not mine. It was written by Bernadette Meaden on the Ekklesia website and passed on to me by a mutual friend.
It constitutes what I think may be a complete answer and refutation of ‘accusations’ that the Labour Party is the so-called ‘party of welfare’. Tories love to bandy this about as though it is an insult. What they don’t tell you is that their alternative is abject poverty for all but an elite few.
I’m jumping ahead of myself. Here’s what Bernadette had to say:
“Conservative MPs frequently say that the Conservatives are the party of ‘hardworking people’, and the Labour Party is ‘the party of welfare’. It’s said as an accusation, an insult, and many Labour MPs take it as such, attempting to deny the charge as if it’s something to be ashamed of.
I would like to see Labour…
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