Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey maintained complete silence on nine DWP secrets during a grilling last week by MPs and then added another to the collection.

As we reported last month, the work and pensions committee wrote to Coffey on 15 June  asking about nine reports that should have been published as long ago as 2017, but which the DWP is desperate to keep secret.

The reports cover issues including sanctions, claimant deaths and the transfer to UC.

The committee said they looked forward to discussing the matter with Coffey at their meeting on Wednesday 29 June.

However, the committee made the tactical error of giving Coffey until 15 July to reply to their letter.

So, at the meeting, whenever any of the reports were raised Coffey simply insisted that she would deal with everything in her letter and would not respond to questions in person.

For example, the chair, Stephen Timms MP, put it to Coffey that “On the general point, would you recognise that the Department committing to publish reports of this kind and then choosing not to do so does damage trust in the Department?”

However, Coffey declined to answer even a general question like this, responding: “I accept that is what you say, but I am going to respond fully to your letter, for which you have given me a deadline of 15 July.”

Tellingly though, Coffey did say “As a general principle, I am not necessarily going to be bound by previous Governments and what has been done, but I will respond fully to your letter.”

 So, it seems likely that one of Coffey’s excuses for refusing to publish reports is that it was a previous minister who made the promise to publish and she doesn’t consider herself obliged to do what a former secretary of state undertook.

But in the course of the meeting Coffey also hinted that the DWP have a secret plan to help claimants who fail to complete the managed migration process within the time limit and thus face destitution.

“I have added a policy that I would rather talk to you privately about, because I do not want to deter people from responding to our requests to migrate.”

But a secret policy, even if it is shared with the committee, is a worthless one that no claimant can possibly rely upon.  If you don’t know what the policy is then it is solely in the gift of the DWP and staff can withhold it as easily as grant it.

Given the way the DWP ignore legal rights that claimants know about, what chance that they will be generous with secret ones?

You can read the full minutes of the work and pensions committee meeting here.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ian D · 27 days ago
    I watched the committee meeting, and was horrified at the sheer arrogance of Coffey. She was conceited, and relishing in the fact that she had the advantage over the committee due to the fact that the meeting preceded the date that she had to respond to the letter by.

    But the committee is equally at fault in this, because they created the situation that allowed her to hide behind that particular paradox.

    Now that we are now passed the 15th July, I wait with interest - but not much hope - for her responses to the questions raised in the letter.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ali D · 1 months ago
    I too have been told the same re evidence I have submitted " no we have no trace of it " . This seems to be a standard practice of "buying time " for them . Then you get the letter " As you have failed to submit evidence within the time limits , your case has been closed ". This was my local council. Think they all have the same training programmes. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Hugh · 1 months ago
    just a few weeks ago, I received a letter from the DWP asking me to provide bank statements, for my ongoing ESA award.
    I sent them the statements 2 days later, they had given me 21 days too respond, so I would have been well within that time period.
     However 4 days later on a Friday at 3.00 pm I received another letter, telling me they had not received anything from me, and I had till the Next Monday to get them to them, that is an impossible time scale where I live, because the post on Saturday does not get picked up until 7.30pm, the statements I had already sent would not have had any chance of getting to them by Monday. 
    On Monday, in a panic I called the number on the letter, and after waiting 48 minutes for an answer, finally a woman told me they had no trace of the  statements I had  sent IN MY JSA RECORDS, I then told her IT WAS FOR AN ESA claim, after much rustling and heavy breathing on her part, she then in formed me that they had received the statements ,and my claim was being processed.
    When I asked her about the 2nd letter giving me no chance to respond on time. she off handedly said " Oh, that's just a letter the computer throws out if a claimant hasn't responded within  2 weeks!! I had responded within 2 DAYS !!!!
     I personally think this second letter is a con,because  they always arrive   second post on a Friday, giving the claimant no time to respond.
     This has been done to me 3 times now, the first time I tried to respond, never made the impossible deadline ,and my benefits were stopped immediately. I am now much more aware of how devious the DWP are with their communications, the seem to abuse every system they use to stop people's benefits, 
    Therese Coffey has an awful lot to answer for, but she is as devious, and secretive, and mostly invisible in Parliament, as her department, is non transparent or open about anything they do! 

    I AM TOTALLY DISGUSTED and SICKENED by the way disabled people are treated by the DWP, I have severe mental health problems.
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    Graham · 1 months ago
    Can we honestly take anything that any government member can say. Far too long we (i say we as I too am disabled) have listened and read information coming out and the next day they change it. With people who like our PM can lie and say sorry and hope people will not listen what hope have we all getting help from any government department. I do listen to realistic debates but this so-called letter coming out will it mean much or nothing at all.
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    Martha Bond-Bassom · 1 months ago
    I am in receipt of DLA and have never yet had any refunds as promised by Gov.t.
    The whole debacle was to 'help' disabled people yet is is being withheld by people who are disabled.  I suffer from myriad co-morbidities, with the latest being cancer.
    What do I need to do to receive entitlements due?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Sally Harris · 1 months ago
    My daughter was refused PIP despite the medical reports stating that she had an incurable brain tumour.

    As she began to get worse she applied again and when she was again turned down we applied for MR.

    They eventually paid PIP 6 months after she died aged 34.




    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Mistydog · 1 months ago
      @Sally Harris I'm so sorry for your loss Sally. This Government has a lot to answer for!!! Don't get me started on Therese Coffey!!! I care for 2 disabled adult sons at home and also my disabled husband, who also had a brain tumour. I can't count the times I've been to tribunals with them all, over the years. DWP is defiantly not fit for purpose!!! 😡😡😡
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Graham · 1 months ago
      @Sally Harris So sorry for your loss. No words can express the pain you and your family have to endure and our broken system makes it impossible to get a satisfactory outcome.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Eliza · 1 months ago
      @Sally Harris I’m so sorry for your loss and the pain this cruel system caused to your family 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Tom · 1 months ago
    Considering the fact that David Cameron stated when his government was first elected, "we will allways support the disabled,and not make their lives any harder".They have done an excellent job of punishment to our community. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Graham · 1 months ago
      @Tom Politicians are for themselves no matter what party they are in. Maybe we need people who care to run the country. Where do we find these people....??
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Aw · 1 months ago
      @Tom Never trust a Tory!

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