Benefit Safeguards - policy issues
Rightsnet have circulated an up to date (as of 04/10/21) copy of the ACSSL escalation list.
There are 36 districts listed with 4 vacancies and 1 person covering two districts - so there are 31 ACSSLs currently in post (as was also stated in the health and disability green paper), this is an increase from the 25 originally announced. The vacancies are for Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, N. London, S. London, and Berks, Bucks & Ox.
The individual contact details (email and phone) for the ACSSLs are no longer included - only a central email address. This seems a shame although I imagine that some local advisers may still have access to these contact details based on local relationships.
The application for permission to appeal was lodged yesterday at the Court of Appeal. This follows an earlier application for permission to appeal lodged at the High Court on 1 October 2021. The High Court refused this application on 11 October 2021.
The appeal seeks to overturn the decision by the High Court, handed down on 17 September 2021, that the new evidence that had come to light since the first inquest did not require a fresh inquest to be held in the interests of justice.
In March 2021 DWP were nominated for a couple of awards related to safeguards work. The Disability Services Customer Experience and Safeguarding Team won a gold award for outstanding contributor of the year and the person in charge of recruiting Senior Safeguarding Leaders (later the name changed to ACSSLs) was nominated for leader of the year: https://odp-awards-2021.orcula.co.uk/handbook
A few bits and pieces from the recent set of UCPB papers deposited in the HoC library: https://depositedpapers.parliament.uk/depositedpaper/2283670/files
Para.7 & 8 of this UCPB paper states DWP have research showing managed migration risks causing vulnerability http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2021-0836/7G-UCPB_16-04-19-Paper6-Move_to_Universal_Credit_Update.pdf
Refers to “Reviewing our policy/safeguarding process to help our colleagues supporting vulnerable customers, to ensure they are protecting the customer and their own wellbeing” http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2021-0836/20I-UCPB_14-05-19-BTL02-Access_Routes-Vulnerable_Customers.pdf
A July ’19 review of Move to UC (managed migration) readiness criteria had ‘We are ready to test support mechanisms and have the ability to learn what support works for 20-50 claimants’ as having an amber status http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2021-0836/37I-UCPB_16-07-19-BTL02-Move_to_UC_Plans-Pilot_Readiness.pdf
Heavily redacted papers show that ‘Over the summer of 2019, the Prime Minister’s Implementation Unit conducted a review looking into the question of “How effective is the support for vulnerable claimants of UC?”. This report aimed to look at the identification of claimants, whether they access the available support, and whether this support improves their outcomes, with a particular focus on the experience of care leavers and victims of domestic abuse’
DWP continue to move away from use of the the term ‘safeguarding’. DWP have changed the name of the operational guidance document from ‘safeguarding’ to ‘protecting claimants at risk’: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/16598/#84422
Readers of this thread might remember that the last batch of this guidance removed a reference to Universal Credit having a responsibility to ensure that anyone who uses their service and benefits can do so safely: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/9149/P120/#81686
An interesting detail from this DNS story relating to the PMIU report into UC and vulnerability: https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/dwp-blanks-out-entire-report-on-support-for-vulnerable-universal-credit-claimants/
“The report is believed to have been commissioned after an investigation by the public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, found in June 2018 that DWP was failing to support vulnerable universal credit (UC) claimants and was unable to monitor how they were being treated.”
I hadn’t been aware that there was a link or heard of the PMIU report before, although I can see that there were written questions about it:
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 an update on the report they previously published titled ‘Information held by the Department on deaths by suicide of benefit claimants’. It includes some information relevant to this thread (but nothing that will be new to people who’ve been following the issue)