Another Angry Voice on the Tories’ Response to the Death Stats: Axe the Stats

This is another important piece from the Angry Yorkshireman over at Another Angry Voice. Mr. Voice reports a leaked government report recording a 5 per cent increase in the death rate. Faced with such further evidence of the devastating consequences of Conservative policies on the vulnerable, the response of the Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, is in line with that of his party comrade, Ian Duncan Smith: shout loudly that the statistics should not be used to discredit government policy without further information, and then close down the collection of such statistics. It’s not just the response of a spoilt child sticking their fingers in their ears and saying ‘la la la’, when faced with a situation they don’t like. They also want to stop others hearing the stats for themselves. So we’re back to the old doctrine of killing the bearer of bad news.

The article begins

‘In August 2013 a leaked copy of a Public Health England report revealed an alarming 23,400 spike in the number of deaths per year in 2012, with the over-80s being the worst affected by this increased death rate. It hardly seems like a coincidence that just days after this damning report was leaked, Public Health England decided to announce that they will stop collecting the data.

Many people have speculated about the possible causes for this 5% spike in the death rate. Proposed contributory factors include the desperate underfunding of the NHS, (especially emergency care), cuts to local government elderly care services, a colder than normal winter and increasing levels of general poverty. Labour MPs and other opposition groups called for an inquiry in order to determine the causes of this spike in mortality rates, but the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt ignored them. Now it turns out that we won’t just not be getting an investigation into the cause of over 23,400 extra deaths, but that the collection of the specific death rate statistics will be discontinued too.

Anyone that is familiar with the machinations of the DWP under Iain Duncan Smith’s “leadership” will recognise this technique. If the official statistics show that over 10,000 people are dying, then the obvious solution to this problem is not to investigate further, it’s to just stop collecting the data!’

The full article is at Like anything the Angry One writes, it needs to be read.

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13 Responses to “Another Angry Voice on the Tories’ Response to the Death Stats: Axe the Stats”

  1. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

  2. sparaszczukster Says:

    Back at the end of June I sent an FOI request to the DWP for information about the number of deaths in 2012 of people on ESA. The DWP had published these statistics for 2010/2011 but had stated they wouldn’t be routinely producing these figures in the future. Hence the request. It just happened that Mike Sivier over at Vox Political had also made the same FOI request and blogged about it. On 11th July the DWP wrote to me refusing my request on the grounds that it was ‘vexatious’ citing the fact that a blogger had ‘encouraged’ others to make the same request and that the DWP saw this as ‘seditious’. I asked for an internal review of their decision, strongly refuted the charge that my request was seditious but on the contrary was a reflection of huge public interest and concern in the issue to which the blogger’s actions they referred to were further evidence. Two days ago I received the outcome of the internal review. They upheld the original decision that the request was ‘vexatious’.
    I have now complained to the Information Commissioner and will abide by his decision. With luck he’ll rule that the DWP have to release the information.
    Your post has confirmed what I always suspected – that the DWP are resisting the release of this information because of a huge increase in deaths that will bring shame to the government. Shame they more than deserve.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for this, Sue. It’s interesting hearing your experience of this. I’d already heard Mike say exactly the same thing, as he put in his request following that of another blogger. The DWP turned it down because it was a ‘vexatious’ request, as another blogger had done the same, and requested others also put in requests. Mike had put in the request because the first blogger to do so had his request turned down, as it was only one person asking for the information. The DWP thus ruled that this wasn’t worth the time or the money, as there simply wasn’t enough public interest. The attitude is simply this:
      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. They simply don’t want to supply the information, which shows they’ve already convicted themselves, at least in their minds.

      I hope you are successful in getting the information commissioner to overturn their ruling and accede to your request.

  3. johndeee Says:

    Reblogged this on Disability Rights and commented:
    We demand stats about deaths caused by govt policy

  4. johndeee Says:

    From: John D. Ingleson
    Sent: 20 July 2013 00:46
    To: DWP esa analysis
    Subject: Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of recipients

    Dear Mr David Green

    Please can you explain why no more recent publication concerning “Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of recipients” has been published?

    This information is vitally important at a time of such radical changes to the to benefit system.

    The effects of such changes to a most vulnerable group must surely warrant a vigilant investigation of the data if contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons of Disabilities (which the UK ratified in 2009) is to be avoided.

    Please advise at your soonest convenience.

    Yours faithfully

    John Ingleson
    Tue, 23 Jul 2013 at 15:04

    FW: Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of recipients
    FROM DWP IGS FOI TO You + 2 More
    From: DWP IGS FOI
    CC: DWP IGS FOI, DWP esa analysis

    Dear John Ingleson,

    The report you refer to was a piece of original analysis produced on a one-off basis and released as an ad hoc statistical note. The statistics it contained are not routinely compiled and the analysis has not been repeated. Although we currently have no plans to directly update the ad hoc report, statisticians and other analysts do monitor requests the department receives for new statistics and consider whether we can produce and release analysis that will helpfully inform public debate. The Secretary of State has agreed that officials should look at this issue with a view to seeing what statistics could be produced on a regular basis.

    We can also assure you that Ministers will look for ways to ensure that we have a welfare system that is fair to everyone. This includes benefit and pension recipients, but also taxpayers. Ministers and officials have, therefore, been evaluating a wide variety of propositions, and they will continue to do so. Many factors need to be taken into account and carefully considered before any single measure is implemented. Ministers are looking at a wide variety of issues because they believe that reform is needed in a number of areas.

    The reforms that are being implemented are wide-ranging, and involve the work of a number of Government Departments.

    As Secretary of State in this Department, Iain Duncan Smith is focusing on how the benefits system can best be reformed, including the introduction of the Universal Credit for people of working age and how that will interact with the work of other Departments. Plans for the reform of State Pensions have also now been published.

    Ministers do welcome all views on Government policies, and I thank you for your comments. Should you wish to find out more about the reforms, or about Government services, information can be found through the GOV.UK website. This will now be the best source of information about Government services.

    Thank you.

    IGS Freedom of Information Team

  5. johndeee Says:

    Well that’s all right, then…!?

    • beastrabban Says:

      John, would you mind if I put this up as a blog post, because I think more people should know how the DWP is blocking everyone’s attempts to get the information on this?

      • johndeee Says:

        Please go ahead.

      • beastrabban Says:

        Thanks, Johndeee.

      • johndeee Says:

        Note also, I wrote to an individual but was replied to from the ‘FOI team’ although *I didn’t make an FOI request*! I just wrote a “what’s going on?” request for info. Seems like more than a few other requests for this information were made if they’re now answering with a form letter from the ‘FOI team’….

      • sparaszczukster Says:

        What John says is interesting. My original FOI request was addressed ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and the reply was signed , as was John’s, ‘from the FOI Team’. The reply sent in response to my request for internal review was written in the first person in such a way as to give the impression that someone outside the FOI Team had scrutinised their decision. However, this letter was also signed off ‘from the FOI Team’. I’m hoping the ICO will take note of this sloppiness and make some comment.The ICO complaint form asks specifically for both the organisation complained about and the name of the person who dealt with the FOI request which suggests there is an expectation of more than the vague reference to ‘FOI Team’ which the DWP relies on.

      • johndeee Says:

        See comments (JohnDee) to Salisbury Journal Article:
        “Sleep out protest against bedroom tax”
        Please keep the link relevant whilst Salisbury Journal readers follow the link re: No more Death Stats Update from the government. Thnx

  6. beastrabban Says:

    OK, I’ll keep the link relevant, John.

    Regarding the way the replies to your requests appear to have been scrutinised and written by someone outside the FOI team, despite them claiming to be the authors of the letter, my brother, Mike has something about this on his blog. His request for information was also turned down flat as ‘vexatious’, but it appears to have sparked a debate in parliament. It appears that his request, and others, have been turned over to one of the ministers involved, rather than the civil servants in the DWP. It is the ministers, who have made the decision to refuse the information.

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