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1940-01-012024-05-15 Duty of Care and Safeguarding

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National Assistance Amendment Acts and Determination of Needs Regulations.
National Insurance (NI) Act 1965 and the Ministry of Social Security Act (MSSA) 1966.
Introduction of Invalidity Benefit for people who had to leave their trade or occupation after sustaining an injury or developing a long-term illness.
Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994 receives royal assent.
Key measures from the Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994 come into force, including replacing Invalidity Benefit with Incapacity Benefit, and introducing the points-based All Work Test, as well as regulation 27 – providing a ‘safety net’ for those who faced a ‘substantial risk’ of harm if they were found capable of work.
Professor Wikeley publishes paper highlighting the risks of The Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994, saying that it reaffirms idea of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor, begins the move away from GP-led benefits assessments, and is designed to encourage people to take up private insurance, leaving marginalised groups with inadequate protection.
The Department of Social Security tells the Social Security Advisory Committee that intended policy changes to remove the ‘substantial risk’ rules (which provide vital safeguarding) would have no detrimental effect.
Child Poverty Acton Group (CPAG) writes to the Social Security Advisory Committee.
Clinicians appointed by the DSS removal of regulation 27, which provides vital safeguarding to those whose mental and/or physical health is ‘substantial risk’ if found fit to work.
Child Poverty Action group raises concerns over removal of “significant risk” clause – finding that the Social Security Advisory Committee had been ‘misled’ by the DSS.
The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 receives Royal Assent.
National Audit Office report finds “serious problems” with medical assessment of Incapacity and disability benefits.
The Court of Appeal finds (in the case Howker v Secretary of State) that the social security advisory committee had been misled by the DSS (now DWP) and that removing the “substantial risk” clause was unlawful.
The Social Security Advisory Committee recommends that no change be made to regulation 27, and then withdraws its proposal to remove the safety net.
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.
UnumProvident settles multi-state federal examination of claim handling practices in USA, identifying Unum’s use of in-house medical staff to deny benefits.
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.
Dr Alison Ravetz criticises government’s New Deal for Welfare warning of incalculable stress for those forced into work and predicting future harms.
Bid to regulate health care professionals carrying out work capability assessments fails.
Prevention of future deaths (PFD) report finds that the rejection of his appeal that he was not fit for work was a ‘trigger’ in Stephen Carré’s death.
Coroner Tom Osborne receives initial response to the Stephen Carré PFD from DWP permanent secretary Sir Leigh Lewis.
Coroner Tom Osborne replies to Sir Leigh Lewis, saying that DWP does not need to investigate the circumstances surrounding Stephen Carré’s death but does need to investigate use of medical evidence.
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.)
Publication of “Getting In, Staying In and Getting On: Disability Employment Support Fit for the Future” recommending end to government subsidies for Remploy factories and producing disagreement within the disabled people’s movement.
Commons invokes financial privilege to pass the Welfare Reform Act 2012, quashing Lords amendments to soften changes to the benefits system.
MPs and peers warn of cumulative impact of Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence payments (DLA/PIP) reforms on disabled people.
Mind chief executive resigns from Work Capability Assessment (WCA) review scrutiny panel, arguing that the assessment process “isn’t working”.
Scottish GP tells Scottish parliament that the death of Paul Reekie was caused by the UK government’s welfare reforms.
The death of Karen Sherlock, 2 weeks after she was told she would be eligible once again to receive Employment support Allowance (ESA).
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.
Linda Wootton dies nine days after DWP upholds its decision to declare her “fit for work.”
DWP introduces mandatory reconsiderations – a new internal appeal stage for benefits. 
The death of David Barr, a month after the confirmation of the decision to find him fit for work, which his Father says was the trigger leading to his suicide. 
The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights condemns “intrusive” Work Capability Assessment and the demonization of poor people as undeserving.
Publication of fourth independent review of the Work Capability Assessment – with no mention of deaths or suicides.
Court of Appeal upholds ruling that the Work Capability Assessment discriminates against some disabled people.
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”.
War on Welfare (WOW) petition secures debate in House of Commons.
The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland publishes a report into the death of Ms DE, finding that the process and denial of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) were a major factor in her suicide.
Launch of New Approach campaign and release of work capability assessment report – finding the process “abusive” and “inhumane”.
Employment minister says there is no formal policy to liaise with agencies after a sanction.
Labour MP speaks of “core visits” procedures, which are supposed to be followed when a  “vulnerable” person is sanctioned.
A man (name kept anonymous) dies by suicide after being rejected for both Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
Dismissal of further medical evidence case on the work capability assessment and discrimination, but upper tribunal administrative appeals chamber criticises minister.
DWP raises issues with sanctions and safeguarding of vulnerable claimants by the companies delivering its Work Programme.
Mother of Mark Wood (who died after being found ineligible for employment and support allowance (ESA)) gives evidence to UN committee.
Ministry of Justice releases Stephen Carré prevention of future deaths (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”.
Labour former work and pensions secretary says she “never saw” Stephen Carré PFD report.
DWP sends out reminder to staff about six-point suicide prevention plan.
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.
Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Deidre Brock backs calls to prosecute Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling for their failure to make the work capability assessment (WCA) safe.
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.
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.
The death of Lawrence Bond, hours after visiting jobcentre.
Report by Mental Health and Unemployment in Scotland finds that the work capability assessment (WCA) has a negative impact on mental health.
The death of Jodey Whiting, after being found fit for work, despite telling the DWP about her suicidal thoughts.
The death of Mark Barber, shortly after learning his disability benefits would be cut. Coroner mentions stress linked to reassessment for disability benefits.
Portraying UK disabled people as “parasites” could lead to “violence and killings”, says UN chair.
Work and pensions secretary David Gauke admits sanctions can harm claimants with mental health issues.
Mental health charity Rethink publishes report on how the work capability assessment (WCA) discriminates against people with mental illness.
Department of Health’s national suicide prevention strategy fails to warn NHS of the suicide risk associated with employment and support allowance (ESA). 
The high court rules that changes to personal independence payment (PIP) regulations were unlawful and discriminate against disabled people.
The Commons work and pensions committee finds the assessment system is undermined by “pervasive culture of mistrust”.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) research shows cumulative impact of tax and welfare reforms on disabled people.
The death of Errol Graham, months after DWP wrongly stopped his employment support allowance (ESA), and failed to seek further medical evidence.
Scottish government sets out plans to bring benefit assessments in-house.
Research shows that the sanctions system has a “significantly detrimental” effect on mental health.
The death of Roy Curtis, six days after being asked to attend a face-to-face work capability assessment (WCA).
Ministers fail to include DWP in cross-government suicide prevention plan, despite evidence linking suicides with disability benefits assessment system.
DWP failed five times to follow safeguarding rules before Jodey Whiting’s suicide.
DWP admits it keeps no record of complaints linked to deaths submitted to the Independent Case Examiner.

28 March 2019

Secret recording of face-to-face benefits assessment shows Capita assessor lying about woman’s thoughts of suicide.
The death of James Oliver, a few months after DWP’s refusal to grant him personal independence payment (PIP).
DWP admits destroying report on safety failures in jobcentres.
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.
Senior judges rule to lower the standard of proof in determining suicide.
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).
Disability News Service publishes five-year investigation into deaths linked to the work capability assessment (WCA).
The death of Errol Graham receives first publicity (he died in 2018).
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.
MP reads list of 24 people whose deaths are linked to DWP policy, in Parliament.  
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).
Report from Justice Department shows need for improvement in benefits decision-making. 
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.
Death of Mercy Baguma, an asylum seeker from Uganda.  
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. 
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.
Former work and pensions secretary admits harsh benefit cuts were responsible for rising poverty.
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.
High court is asked to order a second inquest into the death of Jodey Whiting.

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. 
High court hears bid for second inquest into death of Jodey Whiting.
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.
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”.
Judges reject attempt by Joy Dove, the mother of Jodey Whiting, to secure a second inquest into her daughter’s death, saying that individual mistakes, not systemic failings, led to death. 
 The new minister for disabled people says addressing DWP’s legacy of distrust and distress “is a big priority”.
Mother of Jodey Whiting fights on for justice with appeal against a court’s ruling that there should not be a second inquest into her daughter’s death.
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.
Shadow minister says he wants an inquiry into DWP deaths if Labour wins power.
Whistleblower claims DWP is forcing distressed claimants to attend weekly meetings
Nine years on, family of Michael O’Sullivan win tribunal battle.
Figures show Internal Process Reviews (IPRs) into deaths and serious harm of claimants  have doubled in three years.