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Police Complaints Commission Type Body Should Investigate Benefit Deaths, Say MPs

March 24, 2015

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

The influential Commons Work and Pensions committee has today called for “a body modelled on the Independent Police Complaints Commission,” to look into the deaths of working age benefits claimants.

Benefits deaths
The call for an investigative body to be set up, likely to infuriate Iain Duncan Smith, was included in a series of recommendations in a report into benefits sanctions by the committee.

The committee noted that there have been 49 investigations into claimant deaths by the DWP since February 2012 and has called on the DWP to reveal how many claimants were subject to a benefit sanction at the time of their death.

They then went on to demand that the DWP

“ . . . should seek to establish a body modelled on the Independent Police Complaints Commission, to conduct reviews, at the request of relatives, or automatically where no living relative remains, in all instances where an individual on an out-of-work working-age benefit dies whilst in receipt of that benefit.”

Independent review
The committee also renewed their call, first made in January 2014, for a full independent review to “investigate whether benefit sanctions are being applied appropriately, fairly and proportionately, across the Jobcentre Plus (JCP) network”

Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:

“Benefit sanctions are controversial because they withhold subsistence-level benefits from people who may have little or no other income.

“We agree that benefit conditionality is necessary but it is essential that policy is based on clear evidence of what works in terms of encouraging people to take up the support which is available to help them get back into work. The policy must then be applied fairly and proportionately.

“The system must also be capable of identifying and protecting vulnerable people, including those with mental health problems and learning disabilities. And it should avoid causing severe financial hardship.

“The system as currently applied does not always achieve this.”

ESA sanctions
The committee also looked specifically at why employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants are being sanctioned in ever greater numbers.

They heard evidence from work programme providers that, because they had been so unsuccessful in getting ESA claimants into work, more mandatory activity had been forced on sick and disabled claimants. This, they said, “might be leading to more sanction doubts being raised.”

The committee recommended that work programme providers should be allowed to accept ‘good cause’ explanations from claimants as to why they hadn’t met a requirement, instead of having to refer every issue to the DWP.

You can download a copy of the report ‘Benefit sanctions policy beyond the Oakley Review’ from this link.




4 Comments leave one →
  1. lassy permalink
    March 24, 2015 10:30 am

    Reblogged this on Will the real reality please stand up!.

  2. March 24, 2015 4:46 pm

    the police should have stepped in long before the The 49 investigations into claimant deaths by the DWP since February 2012 and has called on the DWP to reveal how many claimants were subject to a benefit sanction at the time of their death is way off the mark and is very much higher as outlined by the facebook page remember the dead

    As many journalists admit to me the number is very much higher but they don’t have the resources to wade through the many hundreds of deaths of the sick and disabled on that page

  3. March 25, 2015 12:22 pm

    I’m not convinced that an investigative committee that would be at the core level managed by Westminister would be the safest option to obtain justice for the families of the now thousands of deaths attributed to this governments abuse of power.
    Only a comprehensive investigation by an independent body such as the United Nations would ensure a just outcome.
    One day Ian Duncan Smith and David Cameron will be held to account for their crimes against the poor and vulnerable of this country.

  4. March 25, 2015 9:00 pm

    Labour … We agree that benefit conditionality is necessary …

    This means that Labour believes in starving the poor, whilst DWP admin both state and private has gone through the roof by the tens of billions rise each year, whilst billions cut to the hungry.

    Sanctions that are many months long, when medically there is the knowledge that, on average, someone dies of starvation within a month (or even sooner), is carelss about life or death of people, from babes in wombs and mothers, to grannies and grandads.

    Universal Credit will make sanctions permanent by Hardship Payments becoming a recoverable loan by court action for direct deductions from future benefit or wages.

    Universal Credit hits people even up to 73 or 76 by denying state pension payout and pension credit payout, just when in 2016 guarantee credit Pension Credit becomes more complex condtional even to current pensioners.

    Just when the flat rate state pension threatens NIL STATE PENSION FOR LIFE.

    See why, under my petition, in my WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT section, at:

    To actually end the threat to life of the current benefit cruelty, Labour needs to change dramatically.

    The only way to do that is for Tory and Lib Dem voting areas where the least votes got them into the job in 2010, have the poor come out and vote different.

    Because in a lot of these voting areas, pensioners in benefit poverty, working age claimants, the working poor on working tax credits (to be replaced by the draconian Universal Credit with its permanet sanctions) facing sanctions for failing to move from part time to full time hours, and the disabled, now all outnumber all other voters.

    Info / logos / who the different are – England, Scotland and Wales

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