The DWP has refused our request to see a copy of the original, unaltered survey on the unmet needs of disability benefits claimants.  They have also refused to say whether they will publish a separate survey on claimants’ financial situations and what support they may need.  Yet, information about how disabled claimants were struggling financially even before the current cost of living crisis began is desperately important.

‘The uses of health and disability benefits’ report was finally published in February.  Although it was damning in itself of the failure to pay disabled claimants enough to meet their basic needs, there was evidence that it had been watered down.

The Disability News Service was told by a whistle blower that the original version of the report was sent back to the authors by the DWP with instructions to reduce the number of references to “unmet needs” and to delete some of its analysis.

Our request to see a copy of the original report was refused by the DWP on the grounds that disclosure “would be likely to inhibit candour and be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.”

A request for a review of this decision by the DWP has produced the same response.

We have now forwarded the case to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Separately, Benefits and Work has revealed that another survey is being carried out on behalf of the DWP by a national polling company. 

The online survey asks a number of questions about what kind of debts claimants have, what effect the debts have had on them and what support they need.

Whilst the survey looks like it could be used to blame claimants for going cold and hungry because of poor budgeting skill, it nonetheless may contain important information about how claimants are struggling.

But, the DWP have refused to answer our Freedom of Information request about how many claimants were involved, how they were selected and whether the survey is going to be published.

The DWP claim the information is exempt because they intend to publish it at a later date, but give absolutely no indication of when this may be.

The issue of unmet needs has become even more pressing because of the current cost of living crisis, which will see many more disabled claimants unable to pay for basics as energy costs explode and inflation continues to rise.

The energy bill for a typical home is set to rise to £1,971 a year, due to the 54% rise in the price cap.  This is projected to increase even further in October.

For many disabled claimants, who may need to keep their homes warmer or run medical equipment, the costs will be even higher.

In addition, council tax bills are increasing, water rates are rising and food bills are also going up.

For the DWP to try to cover up their own research on how inadequate benefits payments are for disabled claimants at such a time is particularly shameful.

But altogether unsurprising.

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    Peter Williams · 2 months ago
    The biggest cut to my Benefit is no more meals on wheels. Everyone else for that matter. Now I have to pay, £150 pounds every 4 weeks. A cut. No fancy was of saying it. Now energy. They are making it easier for some to die.
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    Chris · 2 months ago
    https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2022/march/disabled-claimants-set-lose-warm-home-discounts

    The Government kept this one quiet. To deduct a benefit from DLA/PIP claimants when 54% is added to energy costs is wrong. The benefit is worth £150 per year, which covers two months of my electricity cost. If this policy is put into place it will force me into fuel poverty.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kate · 2 months ago
    Such a shame I cannot share the article on Kit Malthouse my mp and the minister for crime and police who already earns £115,000 having the audacity to complain about he doesn't know how he will be able to afford the current cost of living because they have only had a raise of £2200 which is about £183 a month extra as he stands next to a roaring log fire in his spacious home......the same mp who sends his children to private schools in london, the same one that claimed back more than the prime minister earnt last year and of course employs most of his own family.

    I have multiple sclerosis and when I worked fell down wet stairs which crippled me, the cold affects me massivley, but it's ok I had just over £7 extra when benefits increased, golly am I lucky or what, also because I worked before my diagnosis I'm on contribution based esa so I pay for prescriptions, opticians and dental treatment, none of which I can afford no surprises there, so I have a total of 6 remaining teeth, 3 of which are rotten and no bus dentists around here, my tablets alone would cost over £110 a month so I do prepayment, but I think I may have to go without that too, so forgive me Mr Malthouse I have zero sympathy for you when effectively you are just hoping I believe that people will just give up and die.
    Thank goodness for benefits and work
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    Patrizia · 2 months ago
    According to the DWP, age is a universal cure for everything. Upon reaching age 18, anyone on the autism spectrum is cured, and new claims need to be submitted. Upon retiring, all those reasons why a person was on employment support allowance ( and eligible for PIP/UC/DLA )  are fully cured and are excluded from pension credit.
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    Katrina Wright · 2 months ago
    I have rheumatoid arthritis and my mobility is bad since I have cut back on heating to make my bills more affordable my mobility hss got worse my joints are stiffer they aches more and this is only going to get worse. It makes me so angry especially as when I moved from DLA to PIP I lost the higher rate of mobility and its was only after I challenged the decision that I got the lower rate, those who make the decisions don't know what it is like to be disable and try to afford to live a decent life.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Denby · 2 months ago
    Well done B&W, for pursuing this and all the above comment. Though usually articulate I just have no words for DWPs current behaviour.
    Denby
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    kayla · 2 months ago
    Scary that the DWP are the people in charge…..they are a law unto themselves and seem to be untouchable. Not fit for purpose stems from the top and flows right through. In a private company scenario it would be classed as corruption….disgusting it’s allowed to carry on the way it does.

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