The DWP has admitted to Benefits and Work that it ‘may’ have a copy of the original secret report into claimants’ unmet needs, but has allowed itself an extension of time before it will say whether we can have a copy of the original, unaltered report.
Regular readers will know that the DWP is fighting to keep secret a report entitled ‘The uses of health and disability benefits’ which deals in part with the unmet needs of benefits claimants.
The Commons work and pensions committee has told the DWP that they have until 11 January to publish the report or the committee will obtain a copy themselves and publish it.
However, a whistleblower told the Disability News Service that after being shown the first draft of the report, the DWP told the authors to reduce the number of references to “unmet needs” and to delete some of its analysis.
Benefits and Work made a freedom of Information request to the DWP for a copy of the original, unaltered version of the report.
The DWP have now responded that: “We can confirm that we may hold information falling within the terms of your request; however, we need more time to consider aspects of your request.”
The DWP go on to claim that the ‘Formulation of government policy’ exemption may apply to the request, which allows refusal in order to allow ministers a safe space in which to formulate policy.
The DWP say that they will let us have a full response by 4 February.
In reality, the DWP are probably waiting to see if the work and pensions committee follow through on their threat to publish the altered version of the report.
If that does happen, it will be hard to argue that the exemption could still apply and the DWP will need to try to find another excuse for not allowing us to see a copy of the original report.
We’ll keep you posted.