A petition has been launched after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) blocked the publication of statistics showing how many people have died within six weeks of having their benefits stopped.
More than 18,000 people have signed the Change.org petition in under a week after the DWP appealed a decision to release the sensitive figures.
After a freedom of information request, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), an independent authority set up to uphold public information rights, agreed that there was no reason not to publish the figures.
“Given the passage of time and level of interest in the information it is difficult to understand how the DWP could reasonably withhold the requested information,” The ICO said.
Despite the Information Commissioner’s reasoning, the DWP is refusing to release the figures. A spokesperson told The Huffington Post UK: “We have lodged an appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision to the tribunal.”
The DWP also warned it was irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim, and that mortality rates among people with serious health conditions are likely to be higher than those among the general population.
Maggie Zolobajluk, who started the petition, wrote on the Change.org page: “For years there have been reports of people committing suicide or dying from ill-health soon after their benefits are stopped.
“As a partner of someone with a disability I have been through two benefit appeals and have also been a benefit tribunal representation – so I know from personal experience how stressful the system can be and the impact they have on families.
“I believe the public needs to know the full impact of benefit changes.”
Data released by the government in 2012 showed that 10,600 people in the UK died between January and November 2011 once their benefits had been stopped. However, the up-to-date statistics have yet to be made public.
Read the full article online: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/06/11/statistics-refused-benefits-death_n_7561918.html