Government department’s “no information” claim is just a feeble cover-up

A government department responsible for disability benefits has effectively admitted that vital documents were not shown to an expert hired to conduct a review. The papers link its controversial ‘fitness to work’ test with deaths of benefit claimants.

The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claims it has no information about whether the reviewer was shown copies of peer reviews and two prevention of death reports. Of course, if they had been given to the reviewer, the action would have been noted.

no informationIts “The information is not held” response to a Freedom of Information request, I contend, is an admission of guilt. Those of us who have personal experience of the DWP simply won’t be convinced that it is telling the truth. We see it for what it is, a feeble attempt at a cover-up.

Actions are always recorded but any lack of action isn’t – as there is nothing to note. Therefore, ‘no information’ means the documents were NOT shown to the reviewer. And that is unforgiveable.

The FOI request was submitted by the Disability News Service. Its full story can be read here.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor, so cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

DWP is not ‘solely’ to blame – just partially

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You know that I am a great one for words and hidden meanings. I saw through the meaningless words of UK work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb that the government had no plans to make further disability benefits cuts.

I warned readers of this blog that having no plans did not mean no cuts.

And I was proved right when Crabb told the House of Commons’ Work and Pensions Select Committee that the government would be bringing out further benefit cut plans in a Green Paper later this year.

But, I am figuratively kicking myself for being semi-comatose when a Department of Works and Pensions spokesman made a statement in response to media interest in the 49 peer reviews, or internal inquiries, into deaths of people linked to benefit claims.

That spokesman said: “Any suicide is a tragedy and the reasons for them are complex, however it would be inaccurate and misleading to link it solely to a person’s benefit claim.”

Solely, that is it. Solely.

That one word is an admission that the deaths can be linked, albeit only partially, to their benefit claims.

I wonder if the spokesman has shot the ministry in the foot.

Secret reports, that ministers said did not exist, say they WERE warned that vulnerable being hit hardest

 

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Iain Duncan Smith, former Work and Pensions Secretary, headed team of ministers who did nothing to protect vulnerable, says report.

Writer’s Declaration of interest: I have multiple sclerosis and receive both ESA (in the support group) and Disabled Living Allowance (both care and mobility components at the highest rates).

‘No matter what they tell you, No matter what they do, No matter what they teach us, What we believe is true’1

How true those words have become with the long-awaited reports of secret internal inquiries into deaths of people claiming disability benefits being finally released on Friday.

The very existence of the reports was for a long time denied by UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ministers – headed by then secretary of state Iain Duncan Smith.

Although heavily redacted2, or censored, the reports do still show that government ministers stood by and did nothing despite being warned that the Work Capability Assessment back-to-work tests were hitting vulnerable disabled people the hardest.

This has got to be the 21st century’s most tragic equivalent of the biblical story of Pontius Pilate’s hand washing. But this time, the ‘it is not my fault’ argument just won’t wash.

However, unbelievably, the DWP is continuing to deny responsibility. A spokesman said: “Any suicide is a tragedy and the reasons for them are complex, however it would be inaccurate and misleading to link it solely to a person’s benefit claim.”

There were 49 inquiries up to August 2014. They were mostly undertaken after claimant suicides and though, after numerous redactions, they fail to make a direct link between benefit cuts and claimant deaths, they do highlight widespread flaws that lead to vulnerable claimants experiencing trauma.

Ministers initially denied that they held any records on people whose deaths may have been linked to benefits system. This was untrue, they were just being hidden as the release of the reports, in response to Freedom of Information (FOI) demands, clearly shows.

Apparently, another nine cases have been investigated since August 2014 and are already subject to further FOI requests.

 

1No matter what (recorded by Boyzone) Songwriters LLOYD WEBBER, ANDREW / STEINMAN, JIM Published by Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

2Officials have removed from the reports any references to the specific events that triggered an investigation, as well as dates, names of claimants or staff and locations. Several of the inquiry reports have been stripped of almost all data.     In two instances, investigators reported that it was difficult to carry out a proper inquiry because DWP records had been purged, or not kept properly.

 

 

Suicides of benefit claimants reveal DWP flaws, says inquiry – The Guardian newspaper

Secret papers show that DWP knew that benefit cuts would hit vulnerable hardest – Third Force News