The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is launching an investigation into the DWP’s treatment of claimants with mental health conditions or learning disabilities at WCA and PIP assessments.

There was outrage when, over two years ago, the EHRC backed out of an undertaking to investigate DWP-related deaths and instead tried to reach a legally binding agreement with the department over the way it treated claimants.

The agreement was supposed to be signed off in the summer of 2022, but it seems the DWP ran rings around the EHRC and no agreement was ever signed.

The EHRC has finally lost patience with the department’s time wasting and have now announced a probe into whether successive DWP secretaries of state have committed unlawful acts under the Equality Act 2010.

However, there is considerable dissatisfaction about the narrow scope of the enquiry and the fact that individual claimants will not be allowed to provide evidence.

The investigation will look at whether the DWP has failed to make reasonable adjustments for claimants with learning disabilities or long-term mental health conditions during PIP assessments and work capability assessments.

The EHRC has launched a call for evidence covering the period from January 2021, or earlier “if relevant, necessary and proportionate”

Evidence will be accepted from:

  • Whistleblowers
  • Charities, third sector and advocacy organisations
  • Welfare benefits advisors
  • Legal professionals
  • Medical professionals
  • Academics and researchers

Shockingly, the EHRC will not accept evidence from individual claimants or from relatives or carers.   This is in spite of the fact that many claimants with mental health conditions or learning disabilities may be very isolated and may not have had support from advice agencies or legal professionals in the first place.

There is also no obvious reason why the inquiry isn’t looking much further back, given that campaigners have been highlighting DWP-related deaths of benefits claimants for at least the last ten years.

The DWP are clearly unhappy about the investigation.  DWP secretary of state Mel Stride told MPs “While I do not believe an investigation is necessary, we at the department do of course take the EHRC’s concerns seriously.”

You can read more about the inquiry here

You can read the terms of reference for the inquiry here

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    Bronc · 7 days ago
    Will benefits and work be able to make a submission to this inquiry? I really hope so.
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    Nimesh Patel · 9 days ago
    Here’s an example of DWP incompetence. I was recently knocked down by a car whilst cycling and suffered major injuries. Now I had told DWP of my situation yet they forced me, with major mobility issues , to physically go to the job centre to provide evidence. So in distress I went and lo and behold the woman I saw didn’t even know why I was there.
    When entering a  journal with journal
    Entry to reflect what had occurred. Do you think I got a responce ! No I did not. The whole system is joke and they should hold their heads in shame.
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    Julie · 9 days ago
    Altol assessment person lied on my application I told Dwp!!! There reply She had no reason to lie...so what's point!!
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    Isla · 10 days ago
    The DWP couldn't care less what systems are in place to protect the vulnerable. We need a Government who will reign in their powers but if they can ignore judges then there's little hope. It's a national disgrace that any Goc dept can cause such stress and push people to take their own lives and get away with it. We need more brave whistle blowers to prove they are deliberately causing harm. 
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    Valerie bradley · 10 days ago
    Of course the government will say we take the EHRC's concerns seriously,and perhaps the EHRC's,who have been pretty useless over the years, will wake up and do their jobs properly,when they realise that the government cannot wait to get rid of them,and replace the human rights Bill with a British bill of rights, that allow them to make benefits claiments lifes even more miserable 
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    Sandra Bowes-Rennox · 10 days ago
    It's time those DWP bullies were sorted out as all bullies are nasty but that mob are state sanctioned to cause misery and destitution not to mention early graves.
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    CaroA · 11 days ago
    It's incredibly frustrating to feel voiceless when dealing with the DWP system, especially when it profoundly impacts our lives.  This inquiry yet again acts as a reminder of this.

    Many of us who experience chronic ill health have also endured abusive and traumatic upbringings


    The World Health Organization has recognized the trauma inflicted by the DWP system, regardless of background, and calls for redress.  

    It's disheartening to see parallels between the DWP system and the way our society treats those deemed "undesirable," much like the prison system. So many of us feel like prisoners of this cruel system.  Looking at other nations, like Scandinavia shows how a more humane and supportive approach can be taken towards citizens.  

    Even Neanderthals, often depicted as primitive, showed care for their vulnerable members. This raises questions about how evolved we are and our society's commitment to those in need. 

    We need to keep fighting in whatever way we can - not at all easy when we are so challenged and can often feel so easily unheard.

    Let's hope Labour gets in and that there is a chance 🤞 that they may move us towards making this a more humane society.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Clare · 9 days ago
      @CaroA I fear what we gain on the roundabouts we will lose on the swings
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    Ali · 13 days ago
    I suppose if they asked for evidence from claimants,  we'd all be giving it. Who knows anyone with MH who hasn't suffered as a result of their cruel and wicked treatment.  There are means of feeding back. Martin Lewis has a good one: Money and Mental health,  really good for getting heard, and they invite claimants to forae to share their own experiences.  They've provided a lot of our experiences to those who couldn't care less.
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    Chantelle · 15 days ago
    Hopefully the narrowed sources of evidence is due to the possibility that the sources will have more than information evidence and information to provide without the need for individuals. This could be to speed up the process, and again it is just a hope but it may be that Starmer - who was a human rights lawyer for many years - will not ignore whatever the courts rule on this.
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    wibblum · 18 days ago
    And when this now pointless investigation is concluded, a new (and hopefully different) government will merely tut and sadly shake its head and say "That's shocking of course, but it's nowt to do with us.", while whatever passes for whatever remains of the tory party will laugh and bray and congratulate itself on its lack of compassion as always, but this time from the opposition benches.

    The DWP will glance at any report, shrug, and return to its 'duty'.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      MrFibro · 14 days ago
      @wibblum It's called passing the DWP parcel, irrespective of, which government is in charge.  DWP will not be brought to account.  
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Old mother · 15 days ago
      @wibblum Or perhaps DWP not fit for purpose.
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    denby · 18 days ago
    I hope all the relevant charities eg MIND, Autism UK etc will collect evidence from the people whose conditions they represent, and submit it. In this way our voices CAN be heard. So anyone with enough spare 'spoons' [metaphor for energy in the chronic fatigue community] please write to 'your' charity submitting evidence. 
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    jlee · 18 days ago
    They shud stop assessments for mental health...
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Deerme · 5 days ago
      @Anon Wow!!  that really is not the point nor is it factual.  
      What a very ignorant claim .(excuse the punn) 

      It's this attitude that some off the assessors have .!!
      People are killing them selves due to  ignorance . 


       



    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Waye · 10 days ago
      @MrFibro Why? I dont think my legs are gonna grow back!
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Anon · 18 days ago
      @jlee Why? Mental health is more likely to improve than physical disease/disability.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      MrFibro · 18 days ago
      @jlee Why not physical too ?
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    tintack · 18 days ago
    It's obviously better than nothing, but if they're going to investigate the treatment of claimants, how about taking evidence from, er.....claimants? What about people who have been appallingly treated but whose learning disability prevents them from articulating this? It smacks of recent stories about the DWP demanding huge sums of money back from elderly people with dementia because the DWP hadn't been informed about potential breaches of Carer's Allowance rules, which their own systems were supposed to pick up anyway. 

    For that matter, what about people who can explain how the DWP has mistreated them? Apparently they're not interested in hearing from those people either.

    And why are deaths and mistreatment prior to January 2021 not relevant, bearing in mind that the vast majority of deaths will have happened prior to that date, given that the WCA was introduced in 2008? What about deaths of those with physical conditions who died because their support was wrongly denied?

    I hope this investigation produces concrete results, but if its scope is not widened to include all deaths since 2008 and evidence from claimants and carers is not taken I fear it will be like ignoring a murder charge in order to investigate a potential parking offence.

    It would be nice to think an incoming Labour government would expand the investigation's remit, but I suspect they'll just say that the EHRC is dealing with it, especially as Labour seem to have already quietly dropped a pledge to investigate these deaths. It's certainly hard to see them insisting on all deaths going back to 2008 being investigated, especially as that was when Yvette "imaginary wheelchairs" Cooper was at the DWP and inflicting this wretched system on us. Where is she now? The shadow Home Secretary. It would be rather embarrassing if such a high profile minister were to be found even partly responsible for the deaths of vulnerable claimants. With Rachel "we'll be tougher than the Tories on benefits" Reeves likely to be the new Chancellor and Liz Kendall taking over at the DWP, Labour will almost certainly run a mile from this. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Rosie · 19 days ago
    How can they investigate the treatment of claimants without allowing evidence from claimants? Why don't they just ask readers of the Daily Mail for their comments?!!! :(

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