17 June 2015
The Government must come clean over how many benefit claimants have died after being found ‘fit for work’, the Green Party’s Work and Pensions spokesperson Jonathan Bartley has said.
He also renewed his call for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reforms to be carried out.
It comes as a petition calling for the number of those who have died within six weeks of being certified ‘fit for work’ to be published, passed 150,000 signatures.
“Iain Duncan Smith should come clean about the full impact of benefit changes. He must end this cover up. The public need to know exactly how many have died after being certified 'fit for work' as part of his reforms. The government’s reluctance to tell the truth suggests it has something serious to hide.
"With austerity now in overdrive and a race to the bottom on welfare underway, the full picture is more important than ever.
“We now know that £15bn of cuts are to come in the welfare budget - more than was ever admitted by the government before the General Election. This will mean even greater hardship for the very people who need support the most.
“The Government must publish a cumulative impact assessment before any more cuts are made.”
Two days before the General Election, Iain Duncan Smith was challenged in a live television debate by Jonathan Bartley over the number of suicides of benefit claimants that his department had reviewed. Mr Duncan Smith denied that any reviews had taken place. It later emerged that over 40 reviews had taken place of the suicides of benefit claimants.
Campaigners have used the Freedom of Information Act to ask how many people who died between November 2011 and May 2014 had been found ‘fit for work’, or told they could move towards getting work.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has said that there is no reason not to publish the figures. But the Department for Work and Pensions has appealed to prevent the figures being released.
Claimants passed 'fit for work' are expected to start looking for a job or take part in training designed to prepare them for employment - and face the prospect of being sanctioned and losing benefits if they don’t comply.