Vox Political’s Mike Sivier in Today’s Indie Asking Tough Questions of IDS

Mike from Vox Political has written a piece in today’s Independent, ‘All I want is the Government to say how many people on benefits have died under their watch – why does Iain Duncan Smith think I’m ‘disgraceful’?’ with the significant by-line, ‘You can’t help think that the Government is trying to hide something’. It follows IDS’ recent attack on disability campaigners, in which he declared that they were ‘disgraceful’ for demanding he release the information on the number of people, who’ve died after being assessed as ‘fit for work’.

Mike’s piece begins

David Groves was 56 when he died of a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. His widow claimed that it was the stress that killed him. Terry McGarvey, 48, who suffered from polycytheamia, asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn’t well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not. He died the following day.

When the sick and disabled have to fight the Government for their lives it’s a sad indictment against our nation. Why is it so hard for our Tory Government to tell us how many people on benefits have died under their watch? And why has the campaign for the numbers to be released been called “disgraceful” by Iain Duncan Smith?

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As a political blogger specialising in welfare issues, I have been aware of the horror stories facing benefit claimants for years. It all began with claims in a 2012 Panorama documentary that the “work capability assessment” medical examination on claimants of Employment and Support Allowance was causing extreme, occasionally life-threatening stress.

He briefly discusses the inadequacy of the ‘tick-box’ assessments for judging whether people are able to work, and his shock at the Panorama report, which described how those with suicidal thoughts were asked why they didn’t try to end their lives. He also mentions the stress caused by the lengthy appeals process, before talking about his campaign to get the mortality statistics from the DWP. He describes how IDS’ department refused, and how he was forced to appeal against the decision. He has won the appeal, but the government is planning to publish the stats in a deliberately fudged manner.

Mike concludes by asking why it is that the government has not already published the information, in a form people actually want, without Mike having had to launch a petition to get them to do so? After all, he has a letter from them from two years ago stating that they have the information at hand, and ready to publish. He states

The DWP’s appeal against me states that the statistics are likely to be misinterpreted: “Incorrect conclusions were likely to be drawn as to causal links between assessment outcomes and mortality.” But FOI requests are motive-blind; it doesn’t matter how the DWP thinks the figures will be used. All that matters is whether the DWP has the information and can publish it within cost limits.

It does, and it can.

So let’s have it.

The article also has a link to Mike’s petition to get the government to release the petition. This is at https://www.change.org/p/hm-courts-and-tribunal-service-publish-stats-showing-how-many-people-have-died-after-their-benefits-stopped

Mike’s article is at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/all-i-want-is-the-government-to-say-how-many-people-on-benefits-have-died-under-their-watch–why-does-iain-duncan-smith-think-im-disgraceful-10345080.html

It has a piccie of Mike himself, as well as one of IDS, where he looks like he’s looking into a long, dark pit. Hopefully, it’s the one that’ll swallow his career.

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3 Responses to “Vox Political’s Mike Sivier in Today’s Indie Asking Tough Questions of IDS”

  1. stilloaks Says:

    Reblogged this on DWPExamination..

  2. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  3. Chris Says:

    OK stress is something I know a lot about, having worked in an open plan office with huge numbers of differing people from day to day, and being at the bottom of the pecking order. In myself and observing it in others.

    People who are sick and / or disabled already have the stress to the body of pain.

    And the stress response created by the negative thoughts of the frustrations of illness / disability.

    Add to it the pain of travelling, that is tiring in its own right.

    Then the stress of an interrogation, where they know their sole food income is on the line.

    Then the victim awaits the brown envelope to fall on the mat, with the potential of the devastating news of no money from that day, from that week, for months on ends. Perhaps forever.

    This is supposed to then create the desire for these workshy to go out and get a job.

    How many MPs have had the stress of a job interview?

    How many MPs have suffered the tiring effects on the body of pain?

    How many MPs realise that you can have multiple disabilities and different illnesses at the same time?

    And what employer is going to employ someone liable to be off sick a lot, including visits to hospitals and GPs.

    Visits that take many hours past an appointment time, as you sit hour after hour waiting.

    So add on these increasing levels of stress and you get your body in permanent stress response that threatens heart health, even in the able bodied.

    Then stress also impact short term memory, digestion, tiring to mind and body, and moves on through stages into psychiatric stress injury.

    It can do into the extreme of clinical depression, as the mind’s chemicals are put out of balance.

    Then add the stress of starvation.

    Then of thirst as you have no right to water in a Jobcentre or work programme centre, unlike an alleged offender or prisoner in a police station or prison. Who also has the right, denied by the jobcentres / work programmes, of regular toilet breaks.

    Even in the able bodied, stress causes incontinence.

    Health and safety is about preventing stress. Not so for the victims of government.

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