Information commissioner to force DWP to be transparent about investigation into benefit-related suicides
England’s information commissioner is to launch an investigation into the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “refusal” to reveal reviews into 49 benefit-related deaths.
It comes after the DWP refused several requests to publish the information saying publishing the reviews could represent a breach of section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act.
The act states it would be an offence for a DWP employee to “disclose without lawful authority any information which he acquired in the course of that employment and which relates to a particular person”.
However, a complaint by campaign group Disability News Service (DNS) has launched an investigation by the watchdog.
Campaigners believe sanctions and cuts to benefits have been so severe many claimants - especially those with mental health problems - have taken their own lives.
The investigation will take a number of months to conclude but in the event investigators rule against the DWP the decision can be appealed.
A spokesman for the information commissioner’s office said: “The focus of my investigation will be to determine whether the DWP is entitled to rely on section 44 as a basis for refusing to provide the information you requested.
“Should it not be a valid refusal of your request the commissioner will also determine what information can be provided within the appropriate cost limit."