Campaigner seeks more answers on 'disability benefits' death stats


A campaigner has welcomed the publication of statistics about the numbers of people who die while on out-of-work disability benefits and pledged to continue seeking answers about the fate of claimants.

Mike Sivier said the Department of Work and Pensions had "caved in completely" by releasing almost all the information he had sought in a freedom of information request.

The DWP put out the figures - which it said showed death rates had remained in line with trends in the wider population for a decade - after the Information Commissioner overruled the Government's attempts to withhold the statistics.

Mr Sivier was specifically seeking details of deaths among those on Incapacity Benefit and its replacement Employment and Support Allowance between November 2011 until May 2014.

He had feared the release would be restricted to age-standardised mortality rates (ASMRs) rather than the actual number of people who have died but both sets of data were included.

Officials said they had always intended to put the information in the public domain but only "once they had met the high standards expected of official statistics" and insisted no causal link could be drawn between being on welfare and the likelihood of dying.

Mr Sivier said: "I am glad that the figures have come out. The whole point of making an FOI request was to raise questions. It is important to keep asking questions."

He suggested he might now push for details of the causes of death in each case - including cases of suicide.

A DWP spokesman said: "The mortality rate for people who have died while claiming an out-of-work benefit has fallen over a 10-year period. This is in line with the mortality rate for the general working-age population.

"The Government continues to support millions of people on benefits with an £80 billion working-age welfare safety net in place."