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Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Latest Letter To Iain Duncan Smith

The Right Honourable Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street

Subject: What is the DWP's policy with regard to publishing benefit claimant mortality statistics?

Dear Mr. Smith,

On November 6, 2012 I wrote to your department regarding the number of Incapacity Benefit claimants who had died that year.  I pointed out that "Incapacity Benefits: Death of Recipients (9 July 2012)" was outdated, as it only provided mortality statistics up to November 2011.

Ten days later, I received the following response from Mr. Goff Daft, who is the head of your correspondence team:

On April 20, 2013 I queried Mr. David Green (ESA Analysis), the compiler of "Incapacity Benefits: Death of Recipients", about the release date for the next report.  And I also queried you on June 18, 2013 regarding the same.

On June 24, 2013 I received the following reply:
Dear Mr Miller,

Thank you for your email and apologies for the delay in responding.

The publication you refer to was released on Department's website as an ad-hoc statistical analysis publication. As such there is no intention of releasing an updated version of these statistics.


DWP ESA Analysis 

I was frankly perplexed by this overdue reply because Mr. Goff's November 16, 2012 response left me with the impression that the requested mortality data was being compiled and that only further patience on my part was required.

I would like to know if the DWP has compiled any post-November 2011 mortality data of benefit claimants and/or has the intention of doing so?

If your department is too understaffed and underfunded to compile such data, then I fully understand and sympathize.

However, I must confess that while
I have been very patient and reasonable regarding this matter over a period of many months, I am succumbing to the belief that your department is resorting to petty obstructionism—even a full-fledged cover-up—because the mortality of the sick and disabled has become too politicized for the Tories to cope with—and I suspect that there has been a staggering increase in the number of benefit claimant deaths since November 2011.

I intend to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office unless the transparency of your department improves.

I look forward to your reply.

Samuel Miller


  1. Thank you very much for fighting for those of us that are now too weak and have felt alone and scared.

  2. Yes, thank you. Please update us with your progress!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thank you so much for pursuing these vile people.

  5. I sent this Dame Anne Begg and also Sheila gilmore (chair works and pension commitee , member work and pension commitee respectively)

  6. While I admire your efforts, I think you should reconsider your approach.
    It appears to me that the published mortality statistics were a response to a Freedom of Information request. In order to obtain updated statistics, you would need to submit a new FOIA request. Unfortunately the wording of your letters/emails doesn't clearly request the information that you want, but just asks "when it will be published" in effect. If you make a formal and unambiguous FOIA request, the DWP will be obliged to asses it and justify any decision not to provide you with it. One argument which they are likely to use is that it exceeds the cost limits specified under FoIA, but they would have difficulty supporting that argument because it doesn't appear to have exceeded the cost limits last time a similar request was answered.
    Another avenue which they may try to use is that under FoIA, they are not obliged to create new data. In this instance, I would argue that they already hold existing data, and the only 'new' aspect is how that data is presented in any response.
    I would also suggest requesting the information both as numerical values and as a percentage of the groups during the same time period. You could then compare the mortality rate to the national average mortality rate for the same period. From what I can see, you have no grounds to appeal to the Information Commissioner on your correspondence so far. By framing the request as I suggest, you will have the right of appeal to the ICO (and higher if necessary) if the records are not provided.

  7. What's all this vexatious nonsense ..? It might upset the DWP staff ? They don't mind upsetting claimants do they ? Oh watch out for trolls ..I had a few of them when posting about this matter on a website