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Alan McArdle
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Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts
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‘Permanent Health Insurance’ Westminster Hall debate by Clive Efford MP debated the increasing wrongful denial of PHI claims.
Woodstock conference on “malingering and illness deception”, partly funded by UnumProvident and DWP, will play a key role in justifying welfare reform.
National Audit Office report finds backlog of assessment cases and early signs of DWP’s failure to seek medical evidence early in the assessment process.
DWP’s chief medical adviser, Mansel Aylward, gives evidence to the Commons Public Accounts Committee over accusations that health care professionals, carrying out assessments on behalf of DWP, are treating claimants like “lumps of meat.”
DWP-commissioned research finds Incapacity Benefit Personal Advisers are concerned about working with clients who are suicidal, and about a target driven sanctioning culture.
DWP publishes second research report on Incapacity Benefit reforms and Personal advisers, finding unmanageable workloads affect their ability to identify risk and provide support to people in distress.
DWP commission a report on ‘The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits’, which lays the framework for the 2006 Welfare Reform Bill.
Publication of “Is Work Good for Health and Well-being?”, claims to provide evidence that work is good for health, which will be used by government to justify pressuring disabled people into work.
Dr Alison Ravetz criticises government’s New Deal for Welfare warning of incalculable stress for those forced into work and predicting future harms.
DWP publishes progress report on developing the work capability assessment.
Labour announces the new work capability assessment for claiming employment and support allowance, with DWP claiming that “Fifty per cent of those who take the assessment will not pass it”.
The death of Stephen Carré after finding that DWP had confirmed its decision to find him ineligible for ESA.
Coroner Tom Osborne writes to the father of Stephen Carré, saying he has received no “substantive response” to his prevention of future deaths report.
Professor Malcolm Harrington publishes his first independent review of the Work Capability Assessment, finding that the system is “impersonal” but not “broken” (later evidence would emerge that he had not been informed by DWP of the coroner’s report for Stephen Carré.)
DWP begins to collect peer reviews (the secret reports it carries out into the deaths of benefit claimants) centrally for the first time.
Email leaked from Jobcentre managers to staff after a claimant attempts suicide after being told his sickness benefit would be cut off.
MP raises concerns over the death of Colin Traynor, whose family say they “hold the Government…personally responsible”.
DWP suggests that providing further medical evidence would be too heavy a burden on GPs.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation publishes report on the impact of welfare reform on poverty and exclusion, criticising DWP for failing to assess the overall impact of its welfare reforms.
DWP introduces mandatory reconsiderations – a new internal appeal stage for benefits. 
The death of Tim Salter after being found fit for work. A coroner later ruled that a major factor in his death was the reduction in his benefits.
Despite the Court of Appeal ruling that the Work Capability Assessment discriminates against people with mental health conditions, the DWP tells senior civil servants it is “business as usual”.
Inquest into the death of Michael O’Sullivan, where the Coroner concludes that the trigger for Michael O’Sullivan’s suicide was his assessment as being fit for work, and writes a prevention of future deaths report to DWP, saying that “there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken”.
Atos pull out of contract with the DWP to deliver the work capability assessment due to reputational and profitability issues.
DWP data shows increase in use of sanctions against Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants.
First freedom of information request into DWP reviews into deaths of benefit claimants.
DWP admits for the first time that it carries out investigations into some deaths of claimants.
Faiza Ahmed (known to her family as Sophie) dies by suicide, hours after telling a jobcentre work coach that she was suicidal.
DWP admits in a Freedom of Information response that it has carried out 60 peer reviews into deaths of benefits claimants.
Litchfield publishes fifth and final independent review of the work capability assessment, with no mention of the DWP’s own reviews into deaths of claimants.
Employment minister says there is no formal policy to liaise with agencies after a sanction.
DWP delays responding to freedom of information request on peer reviews into deaths of benefits claimants.
A man (name kept anonymous) dies by suicide after being rejected for both Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
DWP refuses to release the peer reviews it has carried out in relation to deaths of benefits claimants.
DWP admits that 40 of the 49 peer reviews into the deaths of benefit claimants it has carried out were in response to suicides.
Channel 4 reports that most peer reviews included recommendations for improvements.
Dismissal of further medical evidence case on the work capability assessment and discrimination, but upper tribunal administrative appeals chamber criticises minister.
The Commons work and pensions select committee calls for a new independent body to investigate deaths of benefit claimants.
DWP examines its flawed peer review process, finding deep flaws.
DWP raises issues with sanctions and safeguarding of vulnerable claimants by the companies delivering its Work Programme.
Freedom of information request reveals that 22 of the 49 peer reviews into deaths of claimants involved someone claiming employment and support allowance (ESA). 
DWP says coroners’ letters expressing concern about the deaths of benefit claimants are not handled by a specific official, revealing no centralised process for accountability.
The death of Moira Drury, after the removal of her employment and support allowance (ESA).
DWP publish statistics on how many people died while claiming out-of-work benefits.
The death of Alan McArdle, an hour after being told that DWP was threatening to sanction him – stopping his employment and support allowance (ESA).
Information commissioner rejects complaint about DWP refusal to release peer reviews, supporting DWP’s’ response that this would breach data protection.
Professor Harrington (who carried out the first three independent reviews of the WCA for DWP) says he was not shown Stephen Carré PFD report.
DWP, in guidance to healthcare professionals working for Maximus, changes suicide from a “definitive” “substantial risk” if forced into work, to something that should be weighed against ‘benefits of employment”.
Mental health experts describe how “ruthless” DWP forced through Work Capability Assessments despite knowing of harm.
National Audit Office (NAO) publishes report on disability assessments and private contractors.
Coroner publishes prevention of future deaths (PFD) report into death of Sophie/Faiza (see 7 November 2014), calling for DWP to take action to prevent further deaths.
Information Rights Tribunal hears Disability news Service case against the information commissioner over its finding that DWP did not need to release peer reviews into the deaths of benefit claimants.
Disabled activists ask Scottish police to investigate ministers over work capability assessment (WCA) deaths.
DWP sends out reminder to staff about six-point suicide prevention plan.
DWP figures shows that of the 49 peer reviews into deaths of people claiming benefits, 18 of the people who had died by suicide had been claiming employment support allowance (ESA).
DWP releases redacted versions of 49 peer reviews, showing that ministers were repeatedly warned that policies were putting the lives of “vulnerable” claimants at risk.
The death of Susan Roberts, after being told she had lost a benefit appeal.
New reviews into deaths of people claiming benefits show DWP staff keep failing to follow suicide guidelines.
Changes to DWP guidance (including regulation 35) on safety and risk lead to sharp fall in claimants placed in employment and support allowance (ESA) support group, and increase in number of people found ‘fit for work’.
Freedom of information battle with DWP finds Maximus memo on suicide guidance and medical evidence was sent a few days after the existence of the Michael O’Sullivan prevention of future deaths report was first revealed.
The National Audit Office says DWP is not doing enough to understand how sanctions affect people on benefits.
DWP admits it carried out seven peer reviews while Harrington was investigating the work capability assessment (WCA).
The death of Jodey Whiting, after being found fit for work, despite telling the DWP about her suicidal thoughts.
Public accounts committee report urges DWP to review the use of sanctions.
DWP tells the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that it does not keep track of peer review recommendations.
DWP admits peer review process lacked “robust governance”.
The death of Diane Hullah, linked to anxiety caused by the personal independence payment (PIP) application process.
DWP “has gone back on promise” to address work capability assessment (WCA) further medical evidence flaw.
The death of Mark Barber, shortly after learning his disability benefits would be cut. Coroner mentions stress linked to reassessment for disability benefits.
DWP data shows some groups are at substantially higher risk of experiencing a jobseekers allowance (JSA) sanction.
Disability News Service investigates allegations of professionals’ dishonesty in benefits assessments outsourced to Capita and Atos.
Work and pensions secretary David Gauke admits sanctions can harm claimants with mental health issues.
The death of Errol Graham, months after DWP wrongly stopped his employment support allowance (ESA), and failed to seek further medical evidence.
Number of DWP investigations (internal process reviews) into deaths of people claiming benefits double in two years.
The sister of a man with learning difficulties says his death was caused by his move onto the government’s “chaotic” universal credit system. 
Ministers fail to include DWP in cross-government suicide prevention plan, despite evidence linking suicides with disability benefits assessment system.
DWP figures show thousands died after having personal independence payment (PIP) claims rejected.
DWP failed five times to follow safeguarding rules before Jodey Whiting’s suicide.
DWP figures suggest deaths linked to the work capability assessment (WCA) may have fallen.
DWP admits it keeps no record of complaints linked to deaths submitted to the Independent Case Examiner.
DWP admits destroying report on safety failures in jobcentres.
DWP responds to Justice for Jodey Whiting petition, saying it has “no plans” to hold an independent inquiry into deaths linked to its actions.
The death of Stephen Smith, following an 18-month battle with DWP over being found fit for work.
Responses to freedom of information requests show DWP and assessors fail to refer claimants at risk of harm to social services.
MP Debbie Abrahams asks the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate why evidence about deaths linked to the work capability assessment (WCA) was withheld from independent reviews.
DWP secures funding to set up an independent panel to examine cases where its own failings have led to the deaths of benefit claimants.
Independent Case Examiner raises concerns about DWP not following safeguarding procedures aimed at protecting “vulnerable” claimants.
The death of Philippa Day, after she had been told she would need to attend an assessment centre for a face-to-face appointment to decide her claim for personal independence payment (PIP).
Police admit officers have no guidance about passing on information about protesters to DWP (after two police forces admitted passing information and video footage to DWP about disabled people taking part in protests).
The death of Christian Wilcox, a few days before he is due to attend an appeal tribunal into DWP’s decision to remove his personal independence payment (PIP).
A doctor employed by Atos says DWP put “immense pressure” on Atos to find claimants fit for work.
The case of Errol Graham’s death is referred to DWP’s new serious case panel.
Report by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows DWP misled two watchdogs over deaths and safeguarding.
The coroner for Errol Graham says she will push DWP on promised safeguarding review (which persuaded her not to submit a prevention of future deaths (PFD) report). 
DWP admits destroying pre-2015 peer reviews into suicides and other deaths of benefit claimants.
Work and pensions secretary responds to questions from Chair of the work and pensions committee, telling him about DWP’s new “Service Excellence Directorate”, including funding for safeguarding and clarifying purpose of internal process reviews (IPRs).
Coroner’s prevention of future deaths report into death of Faiza Ahmed is made public, showing jobcentre’s failings contributed to her death.
DWP permanent secretary gives evidence to work and pensions committee on safeguarding and internal process reviews (IPRs).
Chair of the work and pensions committee writes to work and pensions secretary asking for further information about DWP plans to improve safeguarding.
Work and pensions secretary denies DWP has duty of care or statutory safeguarding responsibilities for people claiming benefits.
New DWP figures show that, in just two years, 1,700 disabled people died within three months of having their claim for personal independence payment (PIP) rejected. 
Dolly Sen “sections” DWP for being “a danger to benefit claimants” – driving many claimants to their deaths.
Work and pensions secretary outlines DWP’s revised guidance on home visits procedures, while again saying the department has no duty of care.
Work and pensions secretary again tells the Commons work and pensions select committee that DWP has no duty of care.
The family of Jodey Whiting are granted permission to ask the high court to order a second inquest into Jodey’s death.
DWP refuses to release recommendations made by its internal process reviews (from between April 2019 and November 2020) into the deaths of benefit claimants.
Newly-released internal process reviews show that a number of suicides between 2014 and 2019 were linked to DWP staff’s failure to follow suicide guidance.
Coroner Tom Osborne files a Prevention of Future Deaths report on the death of Roy Curtis, but the DWP is not mentioned.
Coroner’s silence over why DWP did not give evidence at Roy Curtis inquest.
New analysis of figures suggests DWP is failing to investigate hundreds of suicides of benefits claimants.

26 December 2020

Deaths
Disability Assessments
Duty of Care and Safeguarding
Department for Work and PensionsMaximusPhilip PakreeContent Warning: Self harmContent Warning: Suicide attempts Content Warning: Death
The death of Philip Pakree, after distress caused by an upcoming work capability assessment (WCA).
High court hears evidence from family of Errol Graham in judicial review hearing.
Coroner at Philippa Day’s inquest finds flawed personal independence payment (PIP) system led to her death.
Report from the all-party parliamentary group on health in all policies, says 2016 welfare reforms had devastating impacts on disabled people, and calls for inquiry into deaths of benefit claimants.
Errol Graham’s family lose judicial review claim, with the high court rejecting claim that DWP acted unlawfully by not making further enquiries about Errol Graham’s mental health before it cut off his employment and support allowance (ESA).
Minister for welfare delivery admits “deficit” in tracking “vulnerable claimants” through the universal credit (UC) system.
Research shows testimony from DWP staff admitting inflicting “psychological harm” on claimants to meet unofficial sanctioning targets during coalition years.
Pre-2016 internal guidance for DWP staff suggests DWP have duty of care to benefits claimants.
Publication of DWP and Capita responses to Philippa Day prevention of future death (PFD) report. 
The mother of Ker Featherstone describes how he took his own life, just weeks after DWP cut his personal independence payment (PIP).
DWP publishes Shaping Future Support – health and disability green paper – failing to mention the internal process reviews carried out by the DWP following deaths of claimants.
DWP figures reveal sharp rise in internal process reviews into the deaths of benefit claimants.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission says the government has made no progress on improving the way its social security system protects the rights of disabled people, and that the disability benefits assessment system has led to “the deaths of a number of benefit claimants”.
Capita agrees to compensate Philippa Day’s family for failings leading to her death.
Families outraged after government hands award to DWP safeguarding team for “outstanding contribution”.
DWP refuses to publish figures that would show how disabled people seeking to claim universal credit are experiencing the WCA process
DWP apologises to autistic man after work coach threatens to stick pins in his eyes.
Coroner says DWP ‘must act’ after it told severely ill patient to leave hospital to make a claim for universal credit.
Coroner silent on why DWP was not questioned at inquest, despite ‘nightmare’ messages left by claimant on benefit assessment paperwork.
Whistleblower claims DWP is forcing distressed claimants to attend weekly meetings
Nine years on, family of Michael O’Sullivan win tribunal battle.