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DWP fails to meet Information Commissioner deadline for possible benefit related deaths

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Owen_Stevens
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See this post for some extract from the ICE annual review: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/9149/P150/

Issues relevant to this thread include reflections on systemic issues being addressed through the Serious Case Panel and on failures of communication following the completion of an IPR.  A few of the case studies included in the report involved deaths of claimants.

Owen_Stevens
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A couple of written answers.  A refusal to provide information about specific cases that triggered IPRs and a (slightly mangled?) confirmation that some recent changes were made in response to IPRs

https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-10-15/56664
https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-10-15/56662

Owen_Stevens
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https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/nov/04/sister-died-britain-benefits-system-dwp-capita

In March 2019, Philippa discovered that her disability benefits had been stopped in January that year and she was only receiving the standard allowance – at this time about £60 a week. What transpired after was a downward spiral hastened by poverty and the difficulty of having her benefits reinstated. Despite numerous phone calls from both professionals and Philippa, there continued to be mistakes in the handling of her claim. Philippa called the DWP herself, sobbing while discussing her issues – recordings of these calls were included as evidence in our claim. She informed them that she was “starving and cold” and that she “literally needed a reason to live”. When she ended the call, my sister still said thank you.

[ Edited: 6 Jan 2023 at 12:31 pm by Owen_Stevens ]
shawn mach
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Piece in the Guardian today written by Philippa’s sister:

Before my sister died, I promised her I’d hold Britain’s benefits system to account

Owen_Stevens
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“The terms of the settlement include an agreement to withdraw the family’s legal claims against DWP.

Capita will also meet the family to discuss the changes it has made since her death.”

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/fight-for-justice-goes-on-after-capita-agrees-philippa-day-compensation/

Owen_Stevens
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Departmental Overview 2020-21: Department for Work & Pensions https://www.nao.org.uk/report/departmental-overview-2020-21-department-for-work-amp-pensions/

NAO have published the following update:

Information held by the Department on deaths by suicide of benefit claimants

What we did
We published a report in February 2020 on Information held by the Department for Work & Pensions on deaths by suicide of benefit claimants following correspondence from the then Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the Rt. Hon. Frank Field MP.
This report concluded that it was highly unlikely that the 69 cases into which the Department launched ‘Internal Process Reviews’ represented all cases of deaths by suicide among claimants that it could have investigated. It also found that the Department did not have processes in place to ensure recommendations from the reviews were followed up appropriately. Following this, the Work and Pensions Select Committee took evidence from the Department on how it deals with serious cases.

Outcome
In 2020-21, following our work, the Department improved its processes. It established an Internal Process Review Group to collate review findings and ensure changes are implemented across the Department. The Department told the Work and Pensions Select Committee that where it identifies that a customer may be vulnerable, it will now take additional steps to contact them. Where appropriate, the Department will now also contact other organisations, for example adult social services, before stopping their benefits. The Department has also published minutes and terms of reference of its Serious Case Panel, which considers systemic issues arising from serious cases and makes recommendations to address these issues and reduce their likelihood in the future.

Owen_Stevens
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On 30/07/21 DWP added ‘Internal Process Review documents’ to the list of records retained by DWP for more than 14 months.

This is the relevant webpage: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-information-management-policies/dwp-managing-customer-records-guide

This is a record of the updates to that webpage: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-information-management-policies#history

This is an archived version of the webpage at the start of July 21: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukgwa/20210701230344/https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-information-management-policies/dwp-managing-customer-records-guide

This is an archived version of the webpage on 31/7/21: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukgwa/20210731001148/https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-information-management-policies/dwp-managing-customer-records-guide

Presumably this change was made following this correspondence in which it was stated that IPRs are retained for 6 years where they relate to suicide or self-harm (and so this change presumably means that IPRs relating to serious incidents but not involving suicide or self harm should now be retained): https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/?ACT=39&fid=3&aid=2126_CGp0W61iLMihI4cDqkht&board_id=1

‘Complaints and Redress Team documents’ was also added to the list

Owen_Stevens
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Owen_Stevens
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Work and Pensions Committee: Health assessments for benefits, 1/12/21
https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/3122/pdf/

Qs 12-15, and 39-41 cover benefit deaths

At Q15 Dr Litchfield states that aspects of the WCA probably contribute to the elements that lead people to suicidal behaviour such as predisposition, precipitating factors, and triggers.

DNS covered the session here https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/governments-reviewer-tells-mps-how-dwp-kept-vital-deaths-evidence-from-him/ & https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/wca-reviewer-tells-mps-that-dwp-is-odd-and-characterised-by-inertia/
Rightsnet coverage here: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/things-just-havent-been-taken-forward-in-the-seven-years-since-the-fifth-and-final-review-of-the-work-capability-assessment-was-published

Owen_Stevens
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https://www.radiotimes.com/programme/b-z7kwsn/dispatches/episodes/?episode=b-damh3l

Episode 1: The Truth About Disability Benefits: Dispatches
Investigating a series of deaths, including suicide, by disabled benefits claimants - examining how failings by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) may have contributed. The programme includes findings from the first-ever survey into the devastating impact on the mental health of claimants. Reporter Richard Butchins, who has his own personal experience of dealing with the DWP, meets relatives who say they have lost loved ones as a result of the way the system is run

Channel 4, Fri 17 Dec 7:30pm - 8pm
Director Richard Butchins
Producer Richard Butchins
Executive producer David Henshaw

Vonny
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Owen_Stevens - 06 December 2021 11:07 AM

Work and Pensions Committee: Health assessments for benefits, 1/12/21
https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/3122/pdf/

Qs 12-15, and 39-41 cover benefit deaths

At Q15 Dr Litchfield states that aspects of the WCA probably contribute to the elements that lead people to suicidal behaviour such as predisposition, precipitating factors, and triggers.

DNS covered the session here https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/governments-reviewer-tells-mps-how-dwp-kept-vital-deaths-evidence-from-him/ & https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/wca-reviewer-tells-mps-that-dwp-is-odd-and-characterised-by-inertia/
Rightsnet coverage here: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/things-just-havent-been-taken-forward-in-the-seven-years-since-the-fifth-and-final-review-of-the-work-capability-assessment-was-published

Who is Dr Paul Litchfield, never heard of him, or that other Paul you mentioned?

Vonny
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Hi Owen, I am aware of both the Pauls, but for some reason the secretary of state for work and pensions isn’t :)

Owen_Stevens
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Strange, wasn’t it?