Crippen discovers that Coffey scrapped plan for independent review of DWP sanctions

Well, she’s nothing if not consistent in her approach to her role as work and pensions secretary. As well as completely ignoring anything that shines a negative light upon the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP), Therese Coffey has now abandoned proposals for an independent review of its much-criticised sanctions policy.

The decision to further limit the effectiveness of the so-called DWP Excellence Plan is the latest example of how Coffey has watered down plans to prevent suicides and learn lessons from the deaths of benefit claimants.

Originally commissioned by her predecessor Amber Rudd MP back in 2019 this would have included a review of both policy and delivery of sanctions by her department and the adverse effect it has had on benefit claimants, especially thousands of disabled claimants.

Public Law Project (PLP), which last year published a report that found the system for challenging benefit sanctions posed “significant harm” to claimants, said DWP’s decision to scrap the review was “deeply disappointing”.

Among those disabled people whose deaths have been closely linked to the sanction’s regime was David Clapson, who died in July 2013 after being left destitute by having his benefits sanctioned.

In 2015, DWP admitted that 10 of 49 benefit claimants whose deaths had been investigated through secret “peer reviews” between 2012 and 2014 had had their payments sanctioned.

And in December 2022, MPs were warned that the “aggressive attitude” on benefit sanctions that was taken by DWP in the coalition years of 2013 to 2015 was “back with a vengeance”.

You can read the full story by John Pring, disabled journalist, in Disability News Service published on 26th January 2023.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

Amber Rudd MP, former Works and Pensions Secretary, is standing alongside of the current Secretary Therese Coffey MP. On the floor between them is a torn-up document that reads ‘DWP Excellence Plan – Independent review’. Rudd is saying: “But you’re completely reversing all of my plans to make the DWP more accountable for its actions!” Coffey, with a fat cigar in one hand and an opened tin of beer in the other, replies: “And your point being?!”

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