What: In his final report for DWP, Dr Paul Litchfield makes 28 recommendations for improvements, plus five targeted just at Northern Ireland. He also calls on the government to investigate “as a matter of urgency” why there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of claimants placed in the ESA support group, for those with the highest support needs, suggesting this might be due to increased use of ESA regulation 35. Regulation 35 states that a claimant should be placed in the ESA support group, rather than the work-related activity group (WRAG), if placing them in the WRAG would pose “a substantial risk” to their “mental or physical health”. Disabled activists, including Black Triangle, had spent months campaigning for wider awareness of regulation 35, which they believed could save lives if used more often. There is a brief mention of the report into the death of Ms DE, saying only that “the issue of correctly identifying individuals at risk of self-harm and suicide was highlighted in the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland’s investigation report into the death of Ms DE in early 2014”. There is no mention of peer reviews or of the PFD reports that followed the deaths of Stephen Carré and Michael O’Sullivan.
Why significant: Disability News Service would in later years prove that DWP failed to share the PFDs and peer reviews with Litchfield.