UK

DWP Benefit 'Death Stats' Petition Starter Thanks Supporters For 'Relentless Pursuit Of The Truth'

27/08/2015 16:38 BST | Updated 27/08/2015 16:59 BST
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
BLACKPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 02: Former conservative party leader Ian Duncan-Smith gestures to the audience after receiving a standing ovation from delegates at the 2007 Conservative Conference at Blackpool's Winter Gardens, on 2 October, 2007 in Blackpool, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The woman who started a petition for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to release the benefits 'death stats' has thanked everyone who signed the petition for their "relentless pursuit of the truth".

Maggie Zolobajluk shared a touching message to over 248,000 supporters on the campaign's Change.org page, reading: "The DWP has finally bowed to public demand and has published the 'death stats' in actual numbers as well as "age-standardised mortality rates.

"I hope that The House of Commons now debates these stats as was requested in The House on July 21st.

"I am also hoping an independent public inquiry is opened into all deaths that have occurred after benefits have been stopped, including those who have been sanctioned and those who are left without funds whilst appealing a 'fit for work' finding."

On Thursday, the DWP revealed that more than 4,000 people died within six weeks of being found “fit for work".

Of that figure, 1,360 died after losing an appeal against the decision.

Zolobajluk went on to thank the public for their support, praising the "relentless pursuit of the truth," adding: "Without you we feel that the government would not have published the actual figures."

She expressed her gratitude to the MPs who stood by her, including Debbie Abraham and Marie Rimmer and "their back room staff".

A final tribute went out to Mike Sivier, who lodged the Freedom of Information request that eventually resulted in the statistics being published.

Zolobajluk also praised The Huffington Post UK and The Mirror for their coverage of the petition.

A spokesperson for Change.org told Huffington Post UK: "This case shows how citizens are increasingly holding power to account using the internet.

"Mr Sivier's ongoing campaigning and blogging which ultimately led to the release of these figures coupled with the public awareness that comes with 300,000 people signing Maggie Zolobajluk's Change.org petition are great examples of the internet coming of age as a tool for genuine democratic engagement."

She started the petition after going through two benefit appeals alongside her partner, who has a disability. She said: "I know from personal experience how stressful the system can be and the impact they have on families.

"I believe the public needs to know the full impact of benefit changes."

7 Worthy Petitions