DWP fails to meet Information Commissioner deadline for possible benefit related deaths
Welfare Rights Officer, Southway Housing Trust, Manchester
Total Posts: 544
Joined: 2 June 2015
These cases are becoming depressingly familiar.
However, no-one is ever held to account, and very little changes. This needs to be addressed. I fear that the DWP will realise it is able to escape the consequences of its incompetence/malice/negligence and that the death rate will increase. It is time someone, (preferably senior) was (metaphorically) and very publicly “roasted alive” over these failings.
News story from DNS. Headline: Caxton House cover-up: DWP hid benefit deaths papers from WCA review team
Independent reporting that NAO is to investigate the government’s monitoring of suicides among benefit claimants amid concerns about links between welfare reforms and declining mental health.
News coverage of the death of Errol Graham by the guardian and DRUK
From the NAO
“It is highly unlikely that the 69 cases the Department has investigated represents the number of cases it could have investigated in the past six years ...”
I sent DWP an FOI request for a) the terms of reference or any similar document setting out the scope of the benefit safeguarding review and b) the results of the review.
DWP responded to say that:
In response to your first request, Officials conducted case research, considered coroners reports and engaged through local networks in DWP operations.
In response to your second request, there is no formal commission to publish a review. The purpose of the work was to identify areas where more could be done to build on the support DWP currently provides to vulnerable claimants.
OS update 19/03/2020: It seems that the safeguarding review had no terms of reference and was not expected to produce a consolidated report. DWP can summarise the results of the review in an FOI response but say that there are no documents showing the outcome of the review. See FOI Internal Review response
- FOI2020_03252_Reply.pdf (File Size: 200KB - Downloads: 169)
I’ve been going back through some of my old posts on this topic and came across this thread: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/8737/
Am placing it into this thread just so everything’s in the same place…
Independent reporting -
From the Guardian:
Errol Graham, a desperately ill man who died of starvation when his benefits were cut off, wrote a moving letter pleading with welfare officials to “judge me fairly” because he was overwhelmed by depression.
The handwritten letter, seen by the Guardian, was released by Graham’s family as they launched a legal attempt to prove that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) acted unlawfully and put him at risk by failing to put in place effective safeguards to protect vulnerable benefit claimants.
From Leigh Day:
Alison Turner, partner of Errol’s son, has sent a pre-action protocol letter to the DWP arguing that their systems and procedures regarding the termination of benefits for someone in Errol’s circumstances, and the decisions in his particular case, were unlawful. She also argues that the secretive investigations and reviews being conducted by the DWP into benefit-related deaths are unlawful and must be reformed.
Guidance are given to DWP staff participating in an Internal Process Review (IPR)
- Response_Letter-06916.pdf (File Size: 85KB - Downloads: 176)
Guidance on when to refer for an IPR
This WYNTK guidance provides further useful information: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ipr_procedures#incoming-1553566[ Edited: 30 Mar 2020 at 10:01 am by Owen_Stevens ]
- Response_Letter-06902.pdf (File Size: 46KB - Downloads: 121)