Bereaved families write second letter to Secretary of State to demand public inquiry into benefit related deaths

Sun,24 October 2021
News Benefits

In July 2021, five families who lost loved ones in cases where the DWP has been implicated in their death, wrote to the Secretary of State, Thérèse Coffey to demand a public inquiry into deaths and serious harm linked to the benefits system.

Three months on and they have had no response so all five families have written again to the Secretary of State. You can read their letter below.

"Dear Secretary of State,

Three months ago, we wrote to you as bereaved families calling for an urgent public inquiry into deaths and serious harm related to the benefit system.  Three months ago, the Prime Minster was personally asked if he would meet with a group of families who had been affected. 

We have had no response to our letter. The Prime Minister did not respond to the request to meet with families.

Each day that goes by, more families risk being failed as ours have been.  We will not sit by and let that happen, so we are writing again to you and have invited others who are concerned to add their voices to this call.  

We need a full public inquiry to learn the truth about what has happened.  And we need a new, independent body to investigate future cases. 

Until those steps have been taken, we have no confidence that your department either understands the problem or considers it a priority it to stop more people being harmed. 

Please meet with us and take urgent action to show that you are doing all that you can to make the system you are responsible more humane and transparent."  

Yours sincerely,

Imogen Day, sister of Philippa Day (Philippa died in 2019)
Leanne Dooley, daughter of Kevin Dooley (Kevin died in 2018)
Joy Dove, mother of Jodey Whiting (Jodey died in 2017)
Trudi Johnson, sister of Clive Johnson (Clive died in 2017)
Alison Burton, wife of Errol Graham’s son (Errol died in 2018)

The Stop Benefits Deaths campaign are urging people to write to Thérèse Coffey - ask her to meet with the families and commit to a public inquiry into deaths and serious harm linked to the benefit system. 

You can write to the Secretary of State here.

Your email to the Secretary of State will also be copied in to your MP. 

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

DR UK has written three times to Therese Coffey saying that the DWP should have a statutory duty of care to claimants and that there should be an independent inquiry in to benefit related deaths.

We have never received a reply.

But for a Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ignore the first letter from bereaved families is inexcusable.

We would urge everyone to write to Thérèse Coffey asking that she meet with the five bereaved families as they are again requesting.”

See also our related news story "Sharp rise" in DWP benefit death reviews "deeply concerning".