Campaigner changes tactic and urges public to write to MPs to pressure government
A mass campaign is underway, urging the public to write to their MPs demanding the release of figures into benefit-related deaths.
Over 236,000 people have now signed a Change.org petition demanding the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) release the details.
But now the original petitioner is urging those backing the campaign to start writing to their MPs in a bid to force the government’s hand on the issue.
Maggie Zolobajluk, who first posted the petition, believes the latest tactic is necessary to force the government’s hand on the issue.
The original petition was mounted after a freedom of information request for the figures to be released was rejected.
A complaint was then lodged with the Information Commissioner’s Office in England which ruled on 30 April that the DWP should disclose data that would show the number of benefits claimants who had died after being found fit to work.
The government is still trying to avoid publishing this data.
The body gave the DWP 35 days to make the information public, but the department appealed the decision.
Many now believe the government will embark on a series of appeals and stalling tactics in a bid to deliberately derail the data’s release.
Zolobajluk believes the figures will expose the extent of the government's welfare reform agenda, showing that, since its introduction, many claimants have been driven to an early death because they have either been forced off benefits, into work when they are still unfit or had their cash drastically cut.
She said: “The past few weeks have been a whirlwind.
"First Iain Duncan Smith said they (the DWP) could not publish these figures and accused us of scaremongering.
"Then David Cameron said that they would be published. But this was swiftly followed by the government saying that they were appealing against the Information Commissioner’s ruling that they should be published, saying that this data would lead to “probable misinterpretations” and “was too emotive and wasn’t in the public interest.
“So the government is still trying to avoid publishing this data.
“We must keep campaigning.”
A spokesperson for the DWP confimred it had appealed to the information commissioner against the release of the data.