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DWP release benefit death peer reviews

16 May 2016

Peer reviews indicate the need for better, more sensitive, handing of ‘vulnerable’ claimants by the DWP.

Following the successful legal challenge - John Pring v IC & Department of Work & Pensions which requested details of the circumstances of 49 deaths concerning claimants on benefits, the DWP has released the peer reviews of these cases

These reviews do not establish a direct link between these deaths and the benefits claimed but many highlight flaws in the handling of people with mental illness or learning difficulty by DWP officials.

Some of the reviews make recommendations where a claimant is considered vulnerable including:

  • Reviewing the customer process of ESA
  • Considering appointing ‘customer champions’ where a claimant threatens suicide or self-harm.
  • Reviewing appointment dates and times on all correspondence
  • Carrying out a mandatory independent accuracy check and referral to a debt management service in overpayment cases.
  • Raising staff awareness of action required by staff where a claimant threatens suicide or self-harm.
  • Making guidance more specific about what action to take.  
  • Referral to a senior officer to consider extra care where there is an indication of potential suicide.

See also the Guardian article Suicides of benefit claimants reveal DWP flaws, says inquiry

About Peer reviews

Peer reviews concentrate on the whole claimant journey with a view to the DWP:

  • Getting it right
  • Being customer focused
  • Being open and accountable
  • Acting fairly and proportionally
  • Putting things right
  • Seeking continuous improvement