19 February 2015

Benefit related deaths

It's often alleged that there is a connection between how the DWP treats claimants and the untimely death of some of them. The DWP sometimes investigates these cases, EG:

"The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out 60 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths in less than three years, Disability News Service (DNS) can reveal."

Understandably, people want to see these reviews in case wrongdoing is identified. Also understandably, the DWP don't publish them saying "Section 123 of the Social Security Administration Act (SSSA) 1992 makes it an offence for anyone who is employed in social security administration to disclose without lawful authority any information which he acquired in the course of that employment and which relates to a particular person" See here for an example FOI request where this and other arguments are deployed

However, a more modest request got better results Here the request was mainly for numbers

In the "60 peer reviews following the death of a customer":

1. How many reviews identified that all local and national standards had been
2. How many reviews identified that some local or national standards had not
been followed?
3. How many reviews identified that some local or national standards need to
be revised/improved?
4. What action has there been to date in the cases referred to in my questions
2 & 3 above?

This is essence of the response:

in fact only 49 of these reviews had been conducted in circumstances where the claimant had died.
33 out of the 49 cases referred to above contained recommendations for
consideration at either national or local level.

National recommendations have been referred to the Customer Journey team
for inclusion in their regular reviews. Local recommendations have been
referred to the appropriate office to be taken forward.

This isn't actually an admission of wrongdoing but it seems unlikely that many of the "recommendations" will be drawing attention to good practice in these unfortunate cases,

10May2015:  This related FOI response shows that 10 out of 49 cases had a sanction at some point during their claim.

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