We respond to new inquiry into the DWP's treatment of disabled people

22 May 2024

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has today announced an inquiry into the Department for Work and Pensions’ treatment of disabled people, following concerns that it has failed to protect people with long-term health conditions including those living with mental illness. 

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness said:

“It should be a national scandal that our social security system lets so many people fall through the gaps, causing harm and leading to preventable deaths. Our Stop Benefit Deaths campaign highlights how the failings of the DWP have destroyed countless lives, and bereaved families and campaigners have been calling for the DWP to be held to account for years.

“People severely affected by mental illness rely on the DWP for essential support, but time and time again we hear how people find it to be a punitive system which is extremely challenging to navigate at the best of times, but particularly when you’re unwell. We hope this investigation by the EHRC is the catalyst that finally leads to real change in how people severely affected by mental illness are supported by the state.”

The EHRC says there will be a particular focus in the inquiry on whether the DWP has failed to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people in its assessment processes. Read more about the EHRC inquiry into the DWP's treatment of disabled people.

Rethink Mental Illness has been working with bereaved families for a number of years as part of our Stop Benefit Deaths campaign. The charity has published a series of reports examining issues such as the harm caused by assessments for disability benefits and a lack of transparency and accountability around DWP decision-making and how it learns from its failures. 

If you would like further assistance with news stories on the DWP's treatment of people living with severe mental illness, you can reach the media team on 0207 840 3138 or media@rethink.org.