DWP refuses to publish “secret benefit death reviews”

A black and white graveyard and the DWP logo representing benefits deaths
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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is challenging an independent media outlet over its request for the department to release “secret benefit deaths reviews“. To do this, the DWP is also taking on an independent government body. It’s little wonder the department is trying to suppress the reports and their recommendations. This is because they are likely to expose the DWP’s systemic failings and negligence towards benefit claimants.

DWP: benefits death reviews

As the Canary previously reported, for several years John Pring at Disability News Service (DNS) has been investigating DWP internal process reviews (IPRs). They are:

local DWP investigations which take place when a claimant takes their own life. They also happen when a vulnerable claimant complains to the DWP.

The department started them in 2012 – but it never publishes the results or the recommendations. As the Canary previously wrote, the DWP has:

even admitted to destroying some of the reports. And while it has launched a Serious Case Review panel to monitor them, so far it has done little.

So, Pring has been trying to force the DWP to release some of the IPRs since 2020, but with personal details redacted. He wants it to publish the recommendations made in the reviews. However, Pring has repeatedly hit a brick wall with the department.

John Pring: forcing the department’s hand?

As Pring wrote for DNS, he wants the DWP to release:

Read on...

secret reports completed between April 2019 and September 2020

However, the department has repeatedly refused to release this info, ever since Pring first tried to obtain it in September 2020. He even took the case to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which deals with public bodies like the DWP and what they do with things like freedom of information (FOI) requests. The ICO ruled in October 2022 that the DWP has to release the information. As Pring previously wrote, the ICO:

found that DWP breached the Freedom of Information Act by blocking documents which would have showed recommendations made by its own civil servants to improve safety and reduce the number of suicides and other deaths.

A catalogue of failings

It’s not the first time Pring has taken on the DWP over its secret benefit death reviews. He challenged it back in 2016 over 49 reports it was refusing to release – and won. Then, he won again and again. As Pring wrote, the 2016 reports:

showed that at least 13 reports had explicitly raised concerns about the way that “vulnerable” benefit claimants were being treated by DWP.

Another review obtained by DNS, in 2018, helped show how DWP had been forced to soften the “threatening” tone of the agreement that universal credit claimants must sign to receive their benefits.

And in December 2020, another freedom of information request allowed DNS to show that DWP staff had had to be repeatedly reminded what to do when claimants said they may take their own lives, following reviews into as many as six suicides.

Those reviews suggested that a series of suicides between 2014 and 2019 were linked to the failure of DWP staff to follow basic rules that had been introduced in 2009.

Predictably, the DWP refused to give Pring comment over his latest challenge to it. However, as the Canary previously reported, deaths documented in IPRs may just be the tip of the iceberg anyway:

between 2011 and 2018 alone nearly 35,000 DWP claimants died. They died either waiting for the DWP to sort their claims or after it said they were well enough to work or start moving towards work. To put this into context, in one month during that time period, it would mean over 700 people could have died on the DWP’s watch. Also, in 2018 alone there were at least 750 (if not more) people who took their own lives…

Pring says that a tribunal will hear the DWP’s appeal of the ICO decision later this year. Moreover, the news comes weeks after DNS revealed that the DWP had wasted £66m on a programme it created to reduce the number of benefit claimants taking their own lives. Clearly, the department is doing little to change the idea that it has something to hide over benefit claimants’ deaths.

Featured image via Max Pixel and Wikimedia Commons/UK Government 

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  • Show Comments
    1. As mentioned before, there is a £40m plus fund called the NON RELATED BONUS SCHEME, which pays out thirty pieces of silver to every civil servant who takes a claimant off of the register, whether by death or not.
      Democide has been practiced by the Conservative & Fascist Government in much the same way that the Nazis used AKTION T4.

    2. Oh dear oh dear heir shmites regime carries on death it seems embarrassing the DWP 2010 it really started in earnest those denied benefits who died yes bloody passed away has of the atos crapita maximus nurses who scrolled down the patient’s points most never getting whot they needed these charlitans who guised has nurses should hang their heads in shame yet how many years has it been going on so many yes bloody so many figures now are way way up and all those who deem this so should be brought to account has crimes against their people’s

    3. Ah those dreaded words above aktion t4 was the way forward culling all those useless eaters for those who don’t now RTU IDs went to one of the killing camps I wonder why yet be afraid has quietly they turned this around for you has it’s hard to believe a government can do this under your noses has benefits becomes a dirty word to many behold our monster

    4. This all started under New Labour, who opened the door to give the Tories the excuses they barely needed, in order to get as many chronically ill/ disabled/ vulnerable Claimants off of their books.

      Starmer’s Labour is going even further in their lack of caring, & compassion, for the most vulnerable in society, and will cheerfully continue allowing the DWP to continue their crusade of ill-intent against us all! 😡

      The war waged against the vulnerable has continued in the DWP’s efforts to constantly change the rules of Claiming, as they deliberately change the names of the various Benefits we rely on to live, which then gives them the opportunity to make claiming anything a true feat of endurance.

      They continue this, with their intrusive, humiliating, reams of questions, that want every detail of a Claimant’s devolution into a life of pain/ terror/ endurance – and, even now, after continuous warnings by the UN, and the many Coroner’s Reports, that warned against their treatment of the vulnerable, the DWP’s way of treating Claimants, are to continue asking those most vulnerable to the suggestion of it, why they haven’t killed themselves yet! 😡

      All of this is aimed at getting those who genuinely can’t work, or who have limited capacity for work, to give up their claims, and, preferably for the DWP, and their Paymasters, the Tory Government, for us to give up our lives, so that only those who can still work, are left alive to do so.

      After all, it’s cheaper to pay for a Pauper’s funeral, than to keep those ‘Empty Eaters’ on Disability Benefits! 😡

      The DWP is just an uncaring, callous, factory, ensuring that as many people as possible give up their claims – and their lives.

      Then, when we’ve endured all of that, and are still clinging grimly onto what little quality of life is left to us, in between having to claim, once again, or enduring yet another fight to get our claim reinstated, after it has been judged by someone totally unqualified to do so, the Tories raise the Pension Age, yet again – thus ensuring that we lose even that slight promise of a life without humiliation, and being allowed a little dignity in our old age! 😭

      All the Tories want, is bodies to do all the grunt work, for as long as possible, preferably without question, or rebellion, and for as little money paid to them, as possible.

      And they won’t give a damn how many die trying to fight to get their claims reinstated, or who give up the fight, and commit suicide, while this happens, as there’s always more of us to fill the gaps! 😡

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