Benefit Safeguards - policy issues
It looks like the other (much shorter!) document released through that FOI provides for a pause before stopping or suspending benefit for a vulnerable PIP claimant due to a compliance issue (as opposed to a change of circumstances or due to a change in ‘underlying entitlement’)
That chapter seems to have been added to the PIP operational instructions from 22/4/21.
This written answer provides information about the department’s approach when arrears are paid to vulenrable claimants: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-05-11/62
This is an issue which was raised in a PFD: https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/alexander-boamah/
Edit: I’ve come across guidance (attached) which appears to relate to large payments of transitional SDP payment but which might, possibly - in an amended form, be in use for other large payments. It appears, from the FOI, to have been issued in the 6 months preceding February 2020 https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/universal_credit_spotlight_guida#incoming-1532767[ Edited: 26 May 2021 at 01:46 pm by Owen_Stevens ]
- Spotlight_on_High_value_payments_safeguarding.pdf (File Size: 211KB - Downloads: 534)
An article (behind a paywall) by Debbie Abrahams MP in The Times: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/social-security-claimants-need-government-to-wise-up-g5h0dtqlm
Debbie Abrahams has also put this up on her website: https://debbieabrahams.org.uk/social-security-claimants-need-government-to-wise-up/[ Edited: 20 May 2021 at 09:36 am by Owen_Stevens ]
The 19 May Work and Pensions Select Committee session on the disability employment gap included some information which is reevant to this thread.
The importance of identifying vulnerability is discussed and it seems that Justin Tomlinson would like, as part of the health and disability Green Paper, there to be greater support available from independent advocates (social advocacy) to support people with conditionality/sanctions, navigating the WCA, etc.
See Q251, Q254, Q277, and Q278.
Edit - Rightsnet write up is here: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/dwp-minister-outlines-key-theme-ofhealth-and-disability-green-paper-will-be-to-promote-independent-advocacy-forclaimants[ Edited: 24 May 2021 at 04:55 pm by Owen_Stevens ]
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Written answer from Justin Tomlinson on the number of reviews the government has undertaken after people claiming benefits have died or come to serious harm, including following a Prevention of Future Death Report -
‘Internal Process Reviews form a core part of the Department’s overall approach to investigating the circumstances of a case where potential issues have been identified.
We have made significant improvements to Internal Process Reviews, which including forming the Internal Process Review Group, chaired by the Customer Experience Director in 2020, to established to increase oversight of IPRs at a more senior level.
We are improving the tracking and monitoring of improvements from all IPRs to ensure IPR reports are now being drafted to new consistent standards, raising the visibility of IPRs across the Department.
DWP have undertaken 4 Peer Reviews and 139 Internal Process Reviews involving either a customer death or serious harm from the operational year 2015-16 to date.
The Department replaced Peer Reviews with Internal Process Reviews in 2015. Due to the Department’s document retention policies, we do not hold a complete record of cases prior to 2015-16.
The Department has commenced and concluded 2 Internal Process Reviews following receipt of a Prevention of Future Death Report.’
As part of my prep for Thursday’s NAWRA session (https://www.nawra.org.uk/future-meetings/) I’ve been digging back through my records. I’ve found the attached documents useful in reviewing recent developments and thought they may also be useful to readers of this thread. There’s nothing new but hopefully just makes some existing information more accessible.
Some information about the CEACS team (I think this may previously have been called the Customer Experience and Learning Team – they keep changing the names!). Their role includes safeguarding the reputation of the department .
Information on the Customer Experience and Learning Team can be found here: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/8346/P75/#75010
- 03_Customer_Experience_and_Advanced_Customer_Support_(CEACS)_Team.pdf (File Size: 401KB - Downloads: 525)
Baroness Sherlock has commented during oral questions in the HoL that the published minutes of the Serious Case Panel are so brief and redacted as to be entirely unrevealing.
A couple of recent FOIs -
On monitoring failed home visits, subsequent case conferences, and referrals to ACSSLs
Turning to your current request, since June 2020, the DWP Visiting Team have recorded:
34 referrals where visits were ineffective relating to ESA customers
1 referral relating to a UC customer where the visit was ineffective
no referrals of this kind for PIP
Where referrals occurred, cases would be referred back to the product line (i.e. the responsible team within the relevant benefit type) to consider the next steps.We do not have recorded information on how many of these resulted in referrals to either HEO/team leaders for case-conferencing,or how many case conferences have led to referrals being made to Advanced Customer Support Senior Leaders (previously known as Senior Safe-guarding Leaders).
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/757353/response/1816870/attach/3/Response 2021 40989 F Keaney.pdf
On contacting third parties prior to stopping benefit
There is no exhaustive list of places that should be contacted before the stopping of payments. This is because each individual case will be judged on its own merits.
Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol
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“..referred back to the product line..”. The use of ‘product line’ sounds like a factory process. Certainly doesn’t convey to me any sense of care or support!
Report with lots of useful recommendations: https://justice.org.uk/justice-and-the-administrative-justice-council-launch-report-on-reforming-the-benefits-system/
It’s worth reading the report but I thought I’d point out a couple of things relevant to this thread - 2.57 & 2.58 cover monitoring vulnerability and sanctions. And 2.69-2.71 cover the sanctions assurance framework and case conferening, and calls for these (if successful) to be put on a statutory footing
The transcript of the 7th July WPSC session is now up: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2514/pdf/
Debbie Abrahams is not impressed with the Serious Case Panel minutes: ‘I had a look at the March minutes, which is a two-page summary of the discussion. I have to say I was a wee bit concerned. This is meant to be a thorough understanding of lessons following the deaths of claimants. I did not get that. There was certainly no indication of the recommendations and the actions that would be taken, just that recommendations and actions were identified.’
Therese Coffey stated that she does not feel that an independent inquiry is necessary because coroners carry out independent inquiries (Q71).
The DWP annual report and accounts have been published: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-annual-report-and-accounts-2020-to-2021
There’s an update on the work of the Serious Case Panel from p.62
It’s also includes information about the fee paid to the non-executive director chairing the SCP (£2000)[ Edited: 16 Jul 2021 at 11:35 am by Owen_Stevens ]
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From the BBC:
The number of internal reviews held when a person claiming benefits dies or comes to serious harm has risen in the past two years, new figures show.
The DWP has begun 124 reviews since July 2019. Ninety-seven of those concerned people who died ...
It follows a BBC investigation into the scale of deaths earlier this year, which found at least 144 internal reviews were carried out between 2012 and 2019.
... plus, here’s the written question the BBC refers to in its story: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-06-23/21211/