Strip DWP of responsibility for ill and disabled people, urges thinktank

The Department for Work and Pensions should be stripped of its responsibility for providing social security benefits and job support to ill and disabled people, a thinktank has urged.

A scathing report by Demos says public trust in the DWP has been shattered by a series of botched reforms to disability benefits, and the imposition of a brutal sanctions regime that has left many vulnerable claimants stressed and in poverty.

The department is risk averse, defensive and seen as hostile to claimants, it says. “With its current configuration, culture and reputation, it is impossible for the DWP to engage meaningfully with ill and disabled people,” it concludes.

Benefits such as the employment and support allowance (ESA) and personal independence payment (Pip) should be instead handled by devolved governments, while job support could be run by councils, the NHS and charities, it says.

“After years of failings, ill and disabled people have lost all faith in the DWP. This demands a radical rethink of the department’s responsibilities,” said the report’s author, the Demos researcher Ben Glover.

The call comes amid concern over what critics say is the DWP’s punitive and insensitive benefits policy and contemptuous treatment of some claimants. Last year the chair of the charity Scope, the former top civil servant Andrew McDonald, who receives Pip because he has Parkinson’s and terminal cancer, called the disability benefits system a “hostile environment”.

The DWP’s reputation has been battered in recent years over its handling of disability benefits, including its widely distrusted fit for work tests, its Pip assessments, and its plans to migrate of hundreds of thousands of existing ESA claimants on to the much-derided universal credit benefit over the next three years.

Full story: Guardian

Author: Philip Challinor
Posted on: 27th March 2019