DWP: Deaths, cover-up, and a toxic 30-year legacy

Wed,6 April 2022
News Benefits

Evidence stretching back more than a decade shows how the DWP repeatedly ignored recommendations to improve the safety of its disability benefits assessment system, leading to countless avoidable deaths of disabled claimants, Disability News Service (DNS) has highlighted.

In a 10,000 word investigation, DNS sets out other evidence that shows how the DWP:

  • ensured that key evidence linking its actions with those deaths was not considered by independent reviews
  • failed to keep track of what actions were taken in response to recommendations made by its own civil servants to improve the system
  • has cultural problems within that touch all aspects of its dealings with Disabled people in the social security system, and how the roots of its toxic culture stretch back at least 30 years.

The evidence has been brought together for the first time in a detailed timeline that stretches back to the early-1990s, as part of the Deaths by Welfare project headed by Dr China Mills and supported by Healing Justice London, which works with marginalised and oppressed communities.

Dr. Mills led the work on the timeline alongside DNS editor John Pring, with key input from disabled activist Rick Burgess, disabled activist and author Ellen Clifford, welfare rights expert and researcher Nick Dilworth, and disabled artist-activist Dolly Sen.

John Pring said that the timeline “shows how DWP continues to pose a serious and continuing risk to the lives of disabled people who pass through the assessment system” and “demonstrates that the department itself is not fit for purpose and needs to be scrapped and rebuilt”.

He added: “The timeline shows how the actions of DWP and its private sector contractors, dating back more than a quarter of a century, have contributed to – and in many cases directly caused – countless deaths of disabled claimants of benefits.

“Based on this evidence, DNS is calling again for an independent inquiry to investigate DWP’s actions over the last 15 years and for a police inquiry into whether there has been criminal misconduct in public office by senior civil servants and ministers since 2010.”

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Officer said: “For 25 years, DNS editor John Pring has doggedly investigated how the DWP’s policies and procedures have caused serious harm to and the deaths of Disabled people.

“This substantial new DNS article is not a quick and comfortable read. But it is an essential one.

“Like DNS, we strongly support the call for a an urgent independent inquiry into the deaths and serious harm caused to Disabled people. Any evidence that there may have been criminal misconduct of course should be vigorously pursued”

For more information see DWP: Deaths, cover-up, and a toxic 30-year legacy available from disabilitynewsservice.com.

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