Care and benefits advice sector come together to demand reform of DWP death and serious harm investigations



“Our staff and members — working in social services and charities – often support people who have been seriously harmed by the policies and actions of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). For example, people in distress being pushed into crisis, through inaccurate assessments and punitive benefit sanctions. We are told by the DWP that there is ‘no wrong door’ and that concerns about harm will be escalated and investigated appropriately by the department.

“Yet the DWP currently investigates just one case of suspected serious harm a month. Investigations are increasing, but they still don’t reflect anything like the real scale of harm.

“To restore public trust, we need greater transparency and a truly independent process to investigate death and serious harm linked to the DWP. When there is eventually a public inquiry, we will reflect with horror at the way people were treated by a system that exists to protect them. In the meantime, the DWP must urgently create a clear route for professionals to raise concerns around deaths and serious harm with confidence these will be investigated, and a way for individuals and their families to do the same.”

Signatories:
British Association of Social Workers
Sara Ogilvie, Director of Policy, Rights and Advocacy, Child Poverty Action Group
Dan Manville, Welfare Rights Supervisor, Greater Manchester Law Centre
Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations, Mind
Alan Markey, Chair, National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA)
Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness
Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive, Turn2us

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