Company behind People’s Vote used controversial Blue Telecoms in referendum campaign | The SKWAWKBOX


  • Open Britain, the company behind the People’s Vote campaign, was originally The In Campaign/Stronger In
  • Blue Telecoms was the company exposed in a Channel 4 undercover operation that led to a warning to the Tories from the Information Commissioner and a lengthy police investigation
  • TIC/Stronger In also contracted Blue Telecoms for apparently identical services, according to Blue Telecoms’ CEO

For full disclosure, the author of this article voted ‘remain’ in the EU referendum.

Saturday’s march in London by the “People’s Vote” campaign that is run by the organisation Open Britain has highlighted the strength of feeling among a significant number of people eager to reverse the UK’s impending departure from the European Union.

Stronger In

Open Britain claims to be a ‘grassroots’ campaign, but is run by or associated with an array of centrists and Tories – and critics of the campaign have accused it of being a vehicle for attacks on the Labour leadership.

 

Source: Company behind People’s Vote used controversial Blue Telecoms in referendum campaign | The SKWAWKBOX

Following a leaked report, a government department is under criminal investigation


Great for Freedom of Information requests (FOI), for without them we would not know details as these.

Now we need to restore all the cuts to legal aid so those who have suffered miscarriages of justice have an avenue to bring back justice.

Tories forced to release Universal Credit assessment reports


SNP Social Justice spokesperson at Westminster Neil Gray MP has said the Tories need to face up to the fact that they are still planning to ‘plunge hundreds of thousands more people into poverty’ with their Universal Credit policies (UC), and that the public must be allowed to see the internal assessment reports.

The comments come as a result of today’s UC debate in which the UK government minister responsible -David Gauke – made a concession which would mean he will make available redacted copies of Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) assessment reports on Universal Credit, to the Westminster Work and Pensions committee.

However, the Secretary of State confirmed to Neil Gray during the debate that he will still challenge the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruling to publish the reports at the High Court.

The ICO has already said they should be published publicly and in full – as that is specifically in the public interest.

 

Source: Tories forced to release Universal Credit assessment reports

DWP sends woman’s confidential WCA report to privacy campaigner – Black Triangle Campaign


A disabled benefit claimant is set to lodge a complaint with the information commissioner after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sent him highly confidential medical details belonging to another benefit claimant.

The man was sent the report, written by an assessor working for the US outsourcing giant Maximus, even though he had made it clear that he refuses on principle to share his own medical information with any private company.

Source: DWP sends woman’s confidential WCA report to privacy campaigner – Black Triangle Campaign

DWP hides seven secret benefit suicide reviews | DisabledGo News and Blog


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is refusing to publish nine secret reviews into the deaths of benefit claimants, despite finally admitting that seven

Source: DWP hides seven secret benefit suicide reviews | DisabledGo News and Blog

DNS to ask tribunal to force DWP to publish secret benefit deaths information | DisabledGo News and Blog


Disability News Service (DNS) will this week ask a tribunal to require the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to publish information about secret reviews it carried out into the deaths of 49 benefit claimants. DNS has been trying since August 2014 to find out what actions ministers took in the wake of deaths linked to the employment and support allowance (ESA) claim process, and the refusal or removal of ESA and other benefits. DWP originally insisted that it held no such information, a claim made both by civil servants and the former minister for disabled people, Mark Harper. But after Steve Webb, a Liberal Democrat ministerial colleague of Harper, contradicted his claim in October 2014, their department was forced to admit that it did carry out what it called “peer reviews” into benefit-related deaths. Following a request submitted by DNS under the Freedom of Information Act, DWP finally admitted that it had carried out 49 such reviews between February 2012 and autumn 2014. But

Source: DNS to ask tribunal to force DWP to publish secret benefit deaths information | DisabledGo News and Blog

Watchdog backs DWP refusal to release 49 benefit deaths reports


Original post from Disabled Go News

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dwp_skull

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been told by the information watchdog that it does not need to release secret reviews it carried out into the deaths of 49 benefit claimants.

Campaigners have expressed frustration and disappointment at the decision, with one MP saying it underlines the need for an independent inquiry into the use of benefit sanctions.

Disability News Service (DNS) has been trying since last autumn to discover what DWP learned from its investigations into deaths linked to the withdrawal or non-payment of disability benefits.

A series of freedom of information requests eventually revealed that DWP had carried out 49 internal peer reviews into benefit-related deaths since February 2012.

Of those 49 reviews, 33 contained recommendations for improvements in DWP procedures at either national or local level, 40 were carried out following the suicide or apparent suicide of a benefit claimant, while 10 of the claimants whose deaths were reviewed had had their benefits sanctioned at some point.

But despite freedom of information requests from DNS, and others, DWP has refused to release the reviews, or summaries of the reports, their recommendations or their conclusions, even with personal details of benefit claimants removed.

After DNS complained about this refusal, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) agreed to launch an investigation.

But the watchdog has now told DNS that ministers were within their rights to refuse to release the reviews, thanks to a loophole created by section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act, and section 123 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

Section 123 says that DWP staff are not allowed to disclose information about a person which they obtained through their job. DWP claimed this applied to the civil servants who prepared or contributed to the internal reviews, and the ICO agreed.

The ICO concluded: “The documents provide a detailed account of the service encountered by former claimants through their interaction with the DWP, all of which would have been obtained either from official DWP records that had been created by DWP staff, or by future investigations by DWP staff.”

In addition, section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act does not allow the ICO to rule that the reviews should be released in the public interest.

The ruling has dismayed disabled people’s organisations and campaigners who have been trying for years to uncover the true impact of welfare reforms and cuts.

Anita Bellows, a researcher with Disabled People Against Cuts, who has submitted her own freedom of information requests to DWP about the 49 reviews, said: “This is a very disappointing outcome, and even more so that no public interest test needs to be considered with this exemption.

“Public interest is the main reason for asking these questions: why did these people die? Were their deaths avoidable? What lessons have been learned?”

It was Bellows who discovered that 10 of the 49 claimants whose deaths were reviewed by DWP had had their benefit payments sanctioned.

She said: “As long as the DWP refuses to answer these questions and to reveal what led these people to take their lives or to their deaths, the department cannot be trusted in its dealings with people facing the greatest barriers and challenges in our society.”

John McArdle, co-founder of the user-led Black Triangle campaign, said it would be “reasonable and proportionate” to at least publish the conclusions of the reviews in an anonymised format.

He said: “There is an unwillingness on the part of the DWP to do that and you have to ask why.

“We want to ensure that avoidable harm doesn’t happen again, which is a matter of the greatest public interest.

“We are supposed to live in a democratic society. The whole point of the Freedom of Information Act is to hold the actions of the government to account. In this instance, we don’t seem to be able to do that.”

Debbie Abrahams, a Labour MP and member of the Commons work and pensions committee, said the ruling was “deeply frustrating”.

She said: “I have called in parliament on several occasions for the DWP to be more open about these peer reviews, including publishing details about the recommendations and changes in procedure that have been made as a result of them.

“Although we must respect the information commissioner’s interpretation of the law around the issue of releasing this information, it doesn’t mean we should stop demanding the government give us answers to our questions and set up a full inquiry into the issue immediately.

“It’s not enough for the government to say they ‘keep their guidance on dealing with vulnerable claimants under constant review’ but then not even say if, or how, they’ve changed the way they treat people who come into that category.

“More than ever now we urgently need a full independent inquiry into the way the government uses social security sanctions.

“This is the only way we will ever stand a chance of getting to the truth about [whether] sanctions are being used appropriately, and if the government is doing enough to ensure that vulnerable people are not being adversely affected by their sanctioning regime.”

She added: “As I’ve stated before, my belief is that ministers, both past and present, will never allow a full independent inquiry, because they have too much to hide and too much to lose.”

Mark Harrison, chief executive of Equal Lives, formerly Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, said that if the reviews were not published, it would be impossible to find out what had gone wrong with DWP benefits policies and practices, and what lessons had been learned.

He said: “Of course there is a public interest. All the people concerned are dead.

“Also, surely, their families and loved ones deserve to know what happened and who was responsible for their deaths.

“If there has been an inquiry, it should be in the public domain.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Aden

Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

More posts from author   ………’

DWP ignores watchdog’s deadline over benefit-related deaths


Original post from Disabled Go News

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dwp_skull

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has ignored a deadline imposed by the information watchdog, as part of its investigation into DWP’s refusal to publish secret reviews into 49 benefit-related deaths.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched the investigation in March, following DWP’s failure to provide information about the 49 reviews requested by Disability News Service (DNS).

But the ICO has now contacted DNS to say that it has made no progress with its investigation because DWP missed its deadline for submitting evidence.

The watchdog warned that DWP could eventually face a charge of contempt of court if it refused to co-operate with the investigation.

In “extreme” cases, ICO can issue a decision notice on a case without waiting for a public body – such as DWP – to respond.

A series of DNS freedom of information requests has revealed how DWP has carried out 49 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths since February 2012.

Of the 49 “peer reviews”, 33 contained recommendations for improvements in procedures at either national or local level within DWP, while 40 were carried out following the suicide or apparent suicide of a benefit claimant.

But despite freedom of information requests from DNS, and others, DWP has refused to publish the reviews, or their summaries, recommendations or conclusions, even with personal details of benefit claimants removed.

DWP claims that releasing the reviews – even with these details removed – could breach the Freedom of Information Act, because section 123 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 makes it an offence for anyone employed in social security administration to “disclose without lawful authority any information which he acquired in the course of that employment and which relates to a particular person”.

ICO is investigating a complaint lodged by DNS into DWP’s failure to release the information.

DWP refused to comment on its failure to meet ICO’s deadline.

Meanwhile, more than 200,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to publish hugely controversial figures that will update the number of people who died after having their out-of-work disability benefits stopped.

Activists have been calling on DWP to publish the statistics since November 2012.

The ICO ordered DWP to release the figures – after an appeal by Mike Sivier, a freelance journalist and carer who runs the Vox Political blog – but the department is appealing that decision.

The petition calls on the Courts and Tribunal Service to dismiss DWP’s appeal and so prevent any further delay in publishing the figures.

Jonathan Bartley, the Green party’s work and pensions spokesman, called on work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to “end this cover up”.

He said: “The public need to know exactly how many have died after being certified ‘fit for work’ as part of his reforms.

“The government’s reluctance to tell the truth suggests it has something serious to hide.

“With austerity now in overdrive and a race to the bottom on welfare underway, the full picture is more important than ever.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Aden

Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

More posts from author  ……………’

DWP block release of figures on number of people dying after benefits stopped


Original post from Disabled Go News

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Conservative Party Conference 2007

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

Roisin Norris

Hi I’m Roisin Norris, Digital Marketing Executive at DisabledGo and I will be uploading blogs and news for you all to read.

More posts from author  …….’