DWP deaths data being prepared 'as we speak' - David Cameron

Posted On: 
24th June 2015

The Government is preparing to release figures on how many people have died after being judged fit to work, the Prime Minister has confirmed.

The Department for Work and Pensions said earlier this month it had lodged an appeal against an Information Commissioner ruling that the data should be published within 35 days of 30 April.

Pressed on the matter during PMQs today, David Cameron insisted the data was being prepared for release “as we speak”.

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During the session, Labour’s Marie Rimmer noted Mr Cameron’s desire for a “new era of transparency in government” and asked him to intervene in Work and Pension Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s efforts to delay publication of the figures.

“First of all let me reassure you this data will be published and is being prepared for publication as we speak,” Mr Cameron responded.

“I think it is important we publish data and this government has published more data about public spending than any previous government.”

A petition calling for the statistics to be made public had accrued over 220,000 signatures before the Prime Minister’s comments today.

The petition alleges Mr Duncan Smith was “attempting to block” the publication of the statistics.

The data would show the number of people on Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance who have died after being declared fit for work by the Government.

'DISGRACEFUL SUGGESTION'

Mr Duncan Smith came under fire over the matter at DWP questions on Monday, when Labour MPs Marie Rimmer and Debbie Abrahams both asked why the Government was “refusing” to publish the figures.

The Secretary of State responded that it was “absurd” opposition members should try to “misrepresent what happens under such schemes”.

"People in that situation are often in a very delicate and difficult position”, he said, adding it was “disgraceful” members should try to suggest a link between benefits ending and subsequent deaths.

Data released in 2010 showed 10,600 people died between January and November 2011 within six weeks of their Employment Support Allowance claim ending.