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Axe The ‘Unfit’ DWP, Says Demos Thinktank

January 21, 2019

Ministers should consider abolishing the Department for Work and Pensions after its failure to help ill and disabled people out of poverty, a leading thinktank has said.

Most of the work of Amber Rudd’s department could be carried out more effectively by other Whitehall ministries, according to a report by Demos.

Tom Pollard, the report’s author, spent 18 months at the DWP on secondment from mental health charity Mind. By the end of his time there he concluded that the “DWP is institutionally and culturally incapable of making the reforms needed to achieve such a shift in outcomes for ill and disabled people, or for ‘harder-to-help’ groups more widely”.

The DWP has come under fire from campaigners and charities for problems with universal credit, the new benefits system, and for its work capability assessments of those claiming they are unfit to work. Rudd is attempting to repair its reputation by overhauling the roll-out of universal credit and battling the Treasury to end the freeze on working-age benefits.

The report concludes that while the DWP has been able to help people with minor difficulties into employment, the outcomes are “much poorer when it comes to supporting people with more complex needs”, such as the ill, disabled, older people, those with drug and alcohol problems, ex-prisoners and the homeless.

It calls for the DWP to be stripped of responsibility for these hard-to-help groups, with the health department and NHS helping the ill find work, local government taking over Jobcentre Plus, and benefits and pensions delivered by HMRC. The charitable sector could also be given a bigger role.

“If the removal of these functions from the DWP proves to be a success, a more comprehensive approach could see the department abolished altogether,” the report concludes. “If the department as it stands remains at the heart of employment support for ‘harder-to-help’ groups, we will face further years of well-intentioned reforms and programmes yielding disappointing outcomes, because of how they will be formulated and how they will be received.”

It accuses the department of seeing claimants through a “benefits lens”, in which conditions were placed on their payments as a way of forcing them into work. He warns that the department’s reputation among many groups is now so bad that it may prove impossible and expensive to improve. “A bad reputation is far harder to lose than a good one,” he writes.

A DWP spokesperson said: “This report is completely misguided and we have no plans to reduce functionality at a time when unemployment is at its lowest, welfare reforms are rolling out across the country and millions are saving for a private pension for the first time. Jobcentres are a local presence yet benefit from a national framework. DWP supports around 20 million people to get into work and save for their retirement, as well as giving stability to those who cannot work, and will continue to do so as one responsible organisation.”

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2019 12:07 am

    The usual claptrap response from the DWP. Their reforms far from saving money have increased the total spend. This won’t stop them, however, because they’re idiologically driven by their hatred of the welfare system.

  2. January 21, 2019 7:46 pm

    “‘Unfit’ DWP”
    “Tom Pollard, the report’s author, spent 18 months at the DWP on secondment from mental health charity Mind.”

    DWP’s fake ‘charity’ Mind discovers that – ‘bears sh1t in the woods’.

    “NHS helping the ill find work”

    So which bit of – TOO ILL TO WORK – does that fake ‘charity’ Mind jerk not understand???

    “benefits and pensions delivered by HMRC”

    … delivered by “Hostile Environment” racists?… nothing could possibly go wrong with that.

  3. Teresa permalink
    January 22, 2019 1:39 am

    They left my disabled neighbour starving stopped her pip for no reason

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