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

Cold calling company bosses may face hefty fines under new plans to STOP nuisance calls | UK | News | Express.co.uk


As a result, almost half the £17.8 million of nuisance call fines issued to companies since 2010 has gone unpaid.

Directors are able to dodge the punishment by withholding payment, liquidating their companies and starting business again under new names.

The Government is now consulting on moves to make company directors personally liable if their firm is found to have made families’ lives a misery with unwanted calls and texts.

The problem is particularly painful for the elderly and other vulnerable people, who can receive dozens of calls a week, and has been made worse by automated dialling technology that helps firms make many thousands of calls per day.

The Government wants to give the data watchdog power to fine directors up to £500,000 – meaning a maximum penalty of £1million for the most extreme case if both boss and company are punished.

 

Source: Cold calling company bosses may face hefty fines under new plans to STOP nuisance calls | UK | News | Express.co.uk

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.

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