|Image by Chris Beckett|
New information has come to light about the DWP's secret peer reviews into the deaths of 49 benefit claimants.
A freedom of information request has revealed that almost half of the people who died were in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) meaning they had an illness or disability.
In response to my request to know which benefit the 49 people were getting at the time of death, the DWP said:
"At the time of death, eight people were claiming Job Seekers Allowance, 22 were claiming Employment and Support Allowance, one was claiming Pension Credit and five were not claiming benefit.
"In the remaining cases, from the information held in the Peer Reviews it is not clear which benefit was being claimed at the time of death."
The DWP recently admitted that one in five of the 49 people who died had had their benefits sanctioned at some stage.
While they have consistently refused to make the reviews public, even with personal details omitted, they were forced to admit that 40 of the 49 peer reviews were carried out following the suicide or apparent suicide of a benefit claimant.
In its reply the DWP said:
"The 49 peer reviews to which you refer were conducted in cases where the person had died, but not all as a result of suicide or subject to a sanction."