16 July 2020
What: The prevention of future deaths report and DWP’s response following the death of Faiza Ahmed (7 November 2014) are released, showing the jobcentre’s failings had contributed to Faiza’s death and that DWP rejected a coroner’s call to take action to prevent further benefit claimants taking their own lives. They were finally emailed to Disability News Service by the Ministry of Justice, following a four-month struggle to secure the two PFD reports mentioned in February’s National Audit Office report (see 20 January 2016). Faiza’s brother, Mohammed, says he is certain that racism lay at the heart of the way his sister was treated by DWP, even if it was “indirect” and not immediately obvious. This was because the harshness of austerity and DWP’s welfare reforms had a disproportionate impact on people of colour, he says. It was only through the family’s efforts, and the support of campaigners and lawyers, that they had secured a longer inquest in January 2016 to examine in front of a jury whether any public body had contributed to Faiza’s death. Otherwise, there would have been a shorter inquest and the failings of DWP would probably never have been exposed. The Judicial Office said the PFD report had not been published until this week because of an “administrative oversight” by the chief coroner’s office.
Why significant: The documents reveal yet again how resistant DWP has been to ensure a duty of care to benefit claimants.