There’s a programme on Friday that the DWP really don’t want you, or anyone else, to watch.

The Truth About Disability Benefits is being shown at 7.30pm on Friday on Channel 4.

It’s a Dispatches documentary investigating the unexpected deaths of disabled benefits claimants, including those who have taken their own lives.

It’s been scheduled at short notice, which is why we’re taking the very unusual step of sending out an email between our normal newsletters.

Because the DWP will be taking very careful note of viewing figures for this programme.

And desperately hoping that it attracts a smaller audience than usual, as proof that there really isn’t any great public interest in the lives and deaths of benefits claimants.

If that’s the case, they can carry on denying there’s a problem and keep on covering up the suffering inflicted on disabled claimants by a heartless system.

But the more people who watch the documentary, the harder it will be for the department to brush aside its findings.

And the more likely that others will begin investigating the secrecy surrounding almost everything the DWP does.

John Pring, founder of the Disability News Service, has been fighting tirelessly for many years to highlight the blood on the hands of the DWP.

And he has been involved from the very start in the making of this documentary.

John told us:

"It's taken about three years to get this programme made, dating back to my initial approaches to production companies.

“I'm really grateful to disabled film-maker Richard Butchins for making it happen and making such a powerful film, and for the patience of the families who have stuck with the project, and agreed to share their stories.

“Those stories are shocking. What is almost as shocking is that we are still waiting for an in-depth, independent inquiry into DWP's repeated failures over the last decade - and even earlier than that - to learn from its mistakes and make its assessment system safe.

“Countless disabled people have died because of that failure. We need an inquiry now."

The documentary is both filmed and presented by Richard Butchins, who’s had his own personal experience of dealing with the DWP.

Some of the relatives of deceased claimants are speaking out on television for the first time, to explain how the system contributed to the deaths of their loved ones.

There’s also testimony from a whistle-blower from inside the department who talks of staff having a dismissive and mocking attitude toward claimants.

And the film features findings from a survey which many hundreds of Benefits and Work readers took part in.

Your responses highlight the devastating impact of the benefits system on the mental and physical health of claimants.

So please, tune in on Friday yourself, if you feel able.

And spread the word to everyone you think might be interested.

The Truth About Disability Benefits: Dispatches, Channel 4, Friday 17 December, 7.30pm


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