There’s the story about the DWP wrongly denying benefits to people (usually large numbers of them at a time).
There’s the one about loss of benefits (allegedly) leading to the death of a UK citizen (or indeed thousands, as I was able to force out of the department back in 2015).
There’s the one about the DWP promising to improve its performance so it gets its decisions right first time.
There’s the one about the appeal system either being unfit for purpose or finding in favour of huge numbers of claimants.
There’s the one about the costs of a system that aims to penalise people rather than pay them being far more than if everybody was just paid without question.
And there are mixtures of several or all of the above.
This story is a mixture.
It seems the DWP has been wrongly denying benefits to people, the appeal process has been demonstrating this at huge cost, and questions have been asked about why the department isn’t getting its decisions right, even after all these years:
The government is finding a record number of disability benefits claimants have been wrongly rejected by its own assessments as the cost of correcting these errors soars, new figures show.
Campaigners have pointed to “flaws in the system” that led to almost 80,000 Personal Independence Payment (Pip) decisions being overturned at initial review last year.
Meanwhile, separate figures show the cost of these reviews has surged by 26 per cent in the last two years, despite the fact that the number of reviews carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decreased by 23 per cent over the same period.
The rate at which these appeals have led to a decision being reversed has surged from 22 per cent (46,580 of 236,720) three years ago to 43 per cent (78,390 of 182,880) last year, according to data obtained via freedom of information (FOI) laws.
Separately, figures published by DWP minister Chloe Smith in response to a written parliamentary question show that the cost to taxpayers of mandatory considerations for Pip stood at £24.8m last year, compared with £19.7m in 2018/19 and £13.7m in 2016/17.
Of course the upshot of this is that the DWP is unreasonably harming people’s quality of life.
And this leads me to the final aspect of DWP stories that keeps getting repeated, which is the following:
The DWP is meant to harm claimants’ quality of life. That is the purpose of the benefit system, as far as your Tory government knows.
The ultimate intention is to be able to say that a benefit system is available, while paying out no benefits at all.
Yes, this is extremely harmful to claimants, as we have all seen over the last 12 years. Fatal, in many cases.
And there’s only one way to change it.
After so many years of being told the DWP will learn the lessons of its failures, we can only conclude that it is not learning anything at all – or that the lessons it is learning are about how to harm people in less visible ways.
This is not going to change under the Conservatives*. We need a change of government.
*And no, it won’t change under Labour or the Liberal Democrats either. Please don’t delude yourself with that fantasy for the sake of an easy life.