It sounds like a bleak April Fool’s joke come early. In the face of increasing pressure to end the avoidable, and often unlawful, distress they inflict on claimants, the DWP have announced they are going to . . . change the colour of their envelopes.
Recent months have seen the families who have lost loved ones fighting in the courts to highlight the way that callous treatment by DWP the contributed to their deaths and to force them to make changes.
Jodey Whiting’s family are waiting for a High Court hearing to decide whether a second inquest should be held into her death, so that the part the DWP played can be properly investigated. Jodey, who had multiple physical and mental health conditions, was wrongly told to attend a work capability assessment, which she was unable to do. Jodey took her own life shortly after receiving letters telling her that her benefits would stop.
Errol Graham’s family are waiting for a High Court decision on whether the DWP’s safeguarding policies are so inadequate as to be unlawful. Errol, who was known by the DWP to be vulnerable, starved to death after his benefits were wrongly stopped when he failed to attend a work capability assessment.
The inquest into the death of Philippa Day, who took her own life after being wrongly required to attend a PIP face-to-face assessment, has ended with a prevention of future deaths report by the coroner. Philippa was found collapsed next to a letter from the DWP requiring her to attend the assessment.
The coroner has asked the DWP and its agents to improve their procedures, including the way they communicate with claimants.
Now we learn that the DWP is indeed taking action to change the way it communicates with claimants.
It has announced it will be changing the colour of its envelopes from brown to white.
But the DWP are keen to point out that it is only the colour they are changing.
Not the size of the envelope or the use of a window.
This momentous decision has already been made.
However, the DWP is consulting with professional organisations on what would be the best message to put on the outside of the envelope in order to encourage claimants to open it.
Their current favourite is:
‘Important information enclosed. Please read’.
We wonder what message readers would think appropriate.