What: Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey responds to the 30 July letter from Stephen Timms (chair of the work and pensions committee). Coffey insists that “DWP does not have a duty of care or statutory safeguarding duty” –and adds later that “DWP does not have any statutory safeguarding responsibilities”. The letter includes the six-point plan used by the DWP with “customers” who are suicidal or where is a “threat of self-harm”. This plan is part of a wider Keeping Safe training that all “customer-facing” staff complete. In 2017, UC work coaches were also given mental health training, she says. She says that “the Serious Case Panel (SCP) will not directly track the recommendations that result from individual Internal Process Reviews (IPRs)”, but a new IPR group has been formed to “track and monitor recommendations arising from individual IPRs”. The letter also says that if families of those who have died are not happy with a part of the process then they can write to DWP or go through a formal complaints procedure.
Why significant: Shows Coffey repeating in writing her claim that DWP does not have a duty of care or statutory safeguarding responsibilities for clients in vulnerable situations. It also suggests flaws in the process for allowing bereaved families to engage with DWP.