The National Audit Office has linked suicides with the DWP’s poor handling of benefit claims.
But the official auditor cannot say how many deaths were caused by the government department’s deliberate benefit bungling because it has failed to carry out required support work.
Is this incompetence? Or is it a deliberate attempt to hide the facts?
Perhaps that should be the focus of the next investigation.
The NAO launched its investigation last year after then-chair of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, Frank Field, complained that the DWP had blocked his requests for data on suicide-related deaths, saying it would be too expensive to gather the information.
You see how the bureaucrats have been hiding the facts?
The NAO’s report published on Friday reveals that 69 internal process reviews (IPRs) into claimant suicides where “alleged department activity” may have contributed to the claimant’s death have been completed by the DWP since 2014-15.
However, because there was no clear route for such cases to be communicated to the department, and because there was confusion internally as to whether a reported case should be investigated, it is likely incidents that should have been investigated will have slipped under the radar, the NAO says.
The government watchdog warned that although the DWP said it regarded the internal investigations as a way of improving the safety and quality of its services, it had admitted that it has no idea whether lessons from the reviews were ever learned or their recommendations ever implemented.
And it said that until recently the DWP had failed to actively seek information from coroners and families
“It is highly unlikely that the 69 cases the department has investigated represents the number of cases it could have investigated in the past six years,” it concludes.
You may be heartened by the DWP spokesperson’s apparent serious response to the report, which states that the department will “carefully consider the NAO’s findings as part of our ongoing work”.
It is certainly a far cry from the usual response, which is to say that “no causal link” can be made between suicide and the deprivation of benefits.
This Writer’s personal belief is that it is not worth reading too much into this; it is a response to an official government watchdog.
Bear in mind that the DWP has been caught altering benefit applications in order to prevent people with perfectly valid claims from receiving the money they need.
And will any improvements to the recording of benefit-related deaths emerge from this exercise? I should bleedin’ cocoa!
As for change to prevent these suicides?
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