The DWP admits destroying its own report into dangerous conduct towards welfare claimants

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The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted destroying its own report into its failure to keep social security recipients safe at job centres.

Hiding the truth?

One of the three disabled people who wrote the report said she believes that’s because the DWP didn’t want to see the report published. The government department was facing a freedom of information request from the Disability News Service (DNS) to release the report. And the report co-author, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she witnessed “dangerous” practices from job-centre staff.

The DWP, meanwhile, claims it destroyed the report because “information management policy only requires us to keep a corporate document of an internal briefing for a period of 12 months”.

Forced into admission

The disabled people wrote the report in September 2017 as part of DWP ‘bridge building’ scheme the Community Partners Initiative. The following spring, DNS issued a freedom of information request in an attempt to access the report. But the DWP delayed responding to the request until DNS complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). It was only when the ICO got involved that the DWP admitted destroying the report.

The DWP has refused requests to comment on the report findings or its behaviour.

Safeguarding failures

One of the report authors described incidents she witnessed of DWP policy endangering social security recipients. She heard one of the job-centre staff explain that a claimant should be found ‘fit for work’ “so he’s looking forward to the future”. He had spine cancer and needed someone to change his dressing daily.

In another instance, the report author said another staff member withheld information from a hungry claimant about food-bank vouchers, noting:

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He said four times that he was hungry and couldn’t afford to go shopping and didn’t have enough money for food. That is just dangerous. That person is going to end up with malnutrition and depression

These examples add to the huge list of the terrible conditions that the government continues to put disabled people through. Within 20 months, five reports from international bodies found that the Conservative administration has been violating the human rights of sick and disabled people.

Featured image via Free Stock – Johnny Magnusson

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