Debbie Abrahams of the work and pensions committee this month called the DWP’s behaviour ‘unacceptable’ as it drags out agreeing life-saving measures with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). 

Last April we reported that the EHRC had gone back on its promise to investigate the role of the DWP in the deaths of vulnerable claimants. 

Instead, it decided to enter into a Section 23 agreement under the Equality Act 2006 which obliged the DWP to commit “to an action plan to meet the needs of customers with mental health impairments and learning disabilities.”

The EHRC claimed that “This legally-binding action plan is focused on resolving issues for DWP customers, and offers a fast, effective means of redress, and helps to avoid lengthy investigations.”

According to the EHRC, the agreement should have been completed by the end of last summer.

Instead, far from being fast and effective, the plan has simply allowed the DWP to do nothing for month after month.

According to the DWP representative giving evidence to the work and pensions committee on 11 January everything is going very satisfactorily:

“The conversation is going well. We are now talking about the specifics around what an agreement would look like and the activities around it. The discussions are well advanced, and there are further discussions this month.”

Veteran Labour MP Debbie Abrahams could not hide her anger as she responded:

“I cannot tell you how disappointed I am and how disappointed the Committee will be with that response. It is exactly the response that we had at the end of November . . .  This is a notice under the 2006 Equality Act. To come here and say the same thing is just totally unacceptable—it really is.”

However, the reality is that the committee is powerless to force the DWP to move faster and the EHRC is clearly completely out of its league when dealing with a government department with such vast resources and legal support.

The agreement, when it is finally reached, is likely to be nothing more than a series of unverifiable and unenforceable undertakings to have regard to the needs of vulnerable claimants.

It will change nothing and the EHRC’s failure to mount a proper investigaton into the deaths of claimants will long be remembered by those who have lost loved ones.

You can read the work and pensions committee minutes here.


Write comments...
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Anne Tanner · 1 years ago
    Feeling really sad right now. My case has gone to tribunal - if I hadn’t been able to pay for invaluable therapy after loosing my PIP, due to incompetence by our local mental health team - I probably would not be alive. I have spent thousands of my own money on the correct trauma therapy for me and not just being forced to take dangerous drugs by an incompetent psychiatrist. I am lucky to have good friends and people in my life. I am educated and have looked after myself all my life despite severe trauma as a child. When I did need help it was poor, lots of bullying and lack of compassion. I needed to find that for myself, I was getting pip which helped but then they stopped- SURPRISE SURPRISE. Anyway you can’t keep a b…. down. Let me know what I can do - I have the mental resources now to help those who are also vulnerable like I was but who don’t have support like me! Deeply grateful for all the good work that is done by Benefits and work🙏Gassho Anne
We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.