The DWP won't tell anyone how many people have died after having their benefits stopped

200,000 people have signed a petition demanding transparency from the department

Jon Stone
Monday 22 June 2015 09:02 BST
Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel
Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel

Over 200,000 people have signed a petition asking the Government to publish figures on how many people have died after having their benefits stopped.

The Department for Work and Pensions is refusing to publish the statistics, and is additionally withholding its internal reviews into why certain claimants died.

The DWP is currently appealing a ruling by the Government’s information watchdog saying there is no reason not to publish the figures.

The Information Commissioner said the DWP had no reason to withhold them.

“In 2012 the Department of Work and Pensions published statistics which showed 10,600 people who had been receiving benefits died between January and November 2011,” the petition’s authors say.

“These figures caused an outcry, although many disabled campaigners disagreed over what the figures actually showed. Ministers then blocked publication of any updated figures.”

The statistics released by the government in 2012 showed that 10,600 people in the UK died between January and November 2011 after having their benefits stopped.

The petition calls on the Courts and Tribunals Service to dismiss the DWP’s appeal to prevent any further delays.

“I believe the public needs to know the full impact of benefit changes,” wrote Maggie Zolobajluk, who started the petition.

When asked this week about publishing details of separate reviews into the deaths of sanctioned claimants, Priti Patel, a DWP minister, appeared to indicate that the probes suggested “improvements” to procedures.

“Peer Reviews are used to examine whether processes have been followed correctly, and are not used to seek out or apportion blame,” she said.

“Where opportunities for improvement are found, recommendations are made. It is important to appreciate that these reviews do not examine the underlying benefit policy or legislation. DWP has no plans to publish these reports.”

The DWP admitted in May that 20 per cent of claimant deaths it had investigated had been subject to sanctions, according to the Disability News Service.

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