The commons work and pensions committee has confirmed it is going ahead with its plan to obtain a copy of a secret disability benefits report and publish it.
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 work and pensions committee had given the DWP a deadline of 11 January to publish the report themselves.
However, on 10 January the committee received yet another blunt refusal from Therese Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions:
“As I have written to the Committee before and re-stated at the Committee hearing last month, my Department is currently considering a range of policy options, drawing on wide evidence, research and analysis, and protecting a private space for policy development is important. I have no intention to publish this research at present.”
The committee have now written to the authors of the report, NatCen, ordering it to provide a copy of the report to the committee by Thursday 27 January, for publication.
Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:
“After repeated obstruction from the Secretary of State to keep from public view a piece of work that falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication, we have reached the end of the road. We would have much rather the DWP had done the right thing and published the report itself, so it is with regret that we must now take the highly unusual step of using our parliamentary powers to obtain a copy from NatCen and publish it ourselves. We have been forced to do this to ensure that the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system can see the light of day.”
However, the DWP has admitted that the report was altered before publication and a whistle blower has said that this was in order to reduce the number of references to claimants’ unmet needs. The final report is, therefore, unlikely to fully reflect the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system.
Benefits and Work is continuing with our Freedom of Information request for a copy of the unaltered report.