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DWP announces regional workshop events to ask disabled people how the social security system could better support their needs

10 October 2019

The DWP is holding a series of nine regional workshop events “to hear directly from disabled people, disabled people’s organisations and charities” on social security reform.

On 25 June, Government announced that the DWP would launch a consultation “to explore ways to improve the support for people with disabilities and health conditions.”

As part of this consultation process, the DWP is holding this series of regional workshop events.

The DWP says:

“We want to hear first-hand from disabled people and the organisations and charities who represent them, about the barriers disabled people face, and work with you to explore how we can improve our service offer. 

Updated 20/10/19

The first workshop events will be held at:

  • 22 October at The Vassall Centre, Gill Avenue, Bristol, BS16 2QQ
  • 24 October at The Carriage Works Leeds, 3 Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 3AD
  • 29 October at Milton Keynes Council Civic Offices, Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes, MK9 3EJ
  • 30 October at The Centre for Voluntary Action BVSC, 138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR

The times for all 3 events are all 10.00 am to 1.00 pm and the DWP is also having a quieter ‘drop in’ session from 2.00 pm to 3.00 pm for people who are not able or comfortable to participate in a group setting.

The DWP stresses that those wishing to attend a workshop must email wca.consultationevents@dwp.gsi.gov.uk to register their interest in attending.

This central email address can also be used for people to ask questions, venue details, and notify it of any accessibility requirements.

Workshop attendees will receive a £30 voucher for their time and will be able to claim back reasonable expenses of travel to and from the event.

The DWP has published a FAQ sheet giving more information.

Broadly, the workshop events will discuss:

  • how the disability social security system could better support disabled people’s needs;
  • whether there should be compulsory work-related activity conditionality and sanctions;
  • how the decision-making and appeals process for ESA and PIP could be improved.
  • how better the DWP could support disabled people in to employment.

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said;

“DR UK can appreciate that disabled people are likely to be cynical about these DWP workshops and about how far the views of disabled people attending will be taken on board.

But they are a significant step forward in ensuring disabled people’s experiences and views are heard.

If they are well attended, then this will mean that an argument for them to become commonplace in relation to how Government policy should be formulated in relation to all issues that impact on disabled people.

We would also hope that the events can be well attended by disabled people and DPOs and would welcome any feedback you can give - from views on how well the workshops run to the overall points that were made to the DWP.

We could then collate the feedback to see what common points DPOs have made on WCA reform to ensure it is recorded and highlighted our response to next year’s disability benefits Green Paper.

DR UK’s maintains that any reformed work capability assessment must be able to capture an accurate picture of the barriers disabled people face.

This should include understanding not just the physical or mental conditions that make it difficult for someone to work, but also other barriers to work such as housing issues, debt, relationship breakdown, lack of access to treatment and employer stigma.

 In addition:

  • there should be no single ‘one appointment’ assessment for ESA and PIP as this would just mean merging two badly constructed and assessed processes;
  • payment of the ESA £30 per week limited work capability component should be restored and the severe disability premium included within universal credit; 
  • the use of benefit sanctions should end, and the any work-related activity must be on a voluntary basis;
  • disabled people should be sent a copy of their ESA and PIP medical assessment report with any decision letter;
  • the use of private contractors to carry out disability assessments should end and instead be taken in-house;
  • disability assessments should be carried out by those who have knowledge and experience of the person’s disability or health condition;
  • provide for all full-time disabled students who receive DLA or PIP to be eligible for universal credit.”

 See also: