The Death Toll from Benefit Cuts: The DWP Blocks Attempts to Find the True Numbers

My brother, over on Vox Political, has been fighting a campaign with others to get the Department of Work and Pensions to release the figures of the number of people, who have committed suicide as a result of their Disability Payments being cut or stopped altogether. See the pages linked below:

http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/call-for-evidence-on-work-capability-assessment-my-submission/

http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/dwp-falsehoods-lets-get-some-questions-answered/

http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/will-the-dwp-do-anything-to-avoid-revealing-the-true-extent-of-the-atos-deaths/

http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/dwp-obstruction-over-atos-deaths-a-plea-for-sanity/

http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/stop-collecting-death-stats-if-you-like-dwp-its-what-youve-got-already-that-we-want-to-see/

The Department has repeatedly turned down requests to release the statistics. They first refused to release them as the request came from a single person, and was therefore a ‘one-off’, which would require too much work to justify answering the request. When my brother put in another request for the same information, and encouraged the readers of his blog to do the same, the DWP turned it down because it was ‘vexatious’ and ‘harassing them’.

Courteous requests for information, as provided by law, is not harassment. Abuse, physical threats and obscene or disgusting objects sent through the post, to which employees of the Tax Office and the other welfare agencies have often been subjected, is harassment. The DWP’s stark refusal to release the information is also an affront to British traditions of open government.

The Enlightenment and Open Government

One of the great achievements of the 18th century Enlightenment was the idea of open, transparent government. It is what has made British and American democracy so great. Not only is the voting public entitled to know the content of the laws, they are also able, through government White papers and other publications, know the reasons why such legislation has been passed. As a result, the public is able to criticise such legislation, and decide for itself whether such legislation is appropriate.

Public Transparency and the Architecture of Annapolis

The idea that justice and government should be open to public view and inspection is built into the very fabric of our historic architecture. In the 18th and 19th centuries, for example, court room doors were opened during trials to show that not only was justice being done, it was seen to be done. A few decades ago there was a big archaeological project excavating and reconstructing 18th century Annapolis in Maryland. Not only did the archaeologists examine its material remains, including standing buildings, they also looked at architects’ plans, and the private letters and papers of its founders and citizens in order to reconstruct the ideas that governed its construction and layout. They concluded that the great Georgian buildings and streets of this great American city had been constructed in accordance with Enlightenment principles of transparency and openness. Buildings were deliberately built so that the activities of the people within them could be plainly seen. It was felt that darkness, obscurity and concealment provided cover for immoral and criminal activities. Thus, as far as possible, buildings were constructed to be as open as possible. The large panes of glass and windows in Georgian buildings were deliberately put in, not only to give their occupants the maximum amount of light, but also to allow people outside to see what they were doing, and check that it was honest and correct.

DWP Statistics Not Connected to National Security, Should Be Released

Of course there are things, chiefly relating to national security, which governments should keep secret. The statistics on the number of deaths through benefit cuts are not one of them. The only dangers these statistics represent it to the continued application of the policy, and the careers of the ministers involved. And these clearly are no reasons for their suppression.

I therefore hope and demand that such statistics become involve available, and look forward to the government releasing them.

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5 Responses to “The Death Toll from Benefit Cuts: The DWP Blocks Attempts to Find the True Numbers”

  1. julieanneda Says:

    Found you via your bro…really need people like you two informing us and challenging establishment when practices are wrong I’m grateful to you both.
    Thank you. Do you tweet too?

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks very much. There are a lot of people out there working against the government’s cuts and austerity programme. It’s surprised and delighted me just how many there. As for your second question, whether I tweet, I’m afraid I don’t. My life is far too boring, I’m afraid!

  2. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    My brother weighs in with a historical perspective on the campaign to persuade the Department for Work and Pensions to release the ESA/IB death figures. From this viewpoint the current government is not only found wanting, but found to be betraying the principles of open government that have made Britain great.

  3. Paul Smyth Says:

    Reblogged this on The Greater Fool.

  4. rainbowwarriorlizzie Says:

    Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & POLITICAL JOURNAL and commented:
    In Solidarity!

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