The Work and Pensions Committee has used its parliamentary powers to publish a UK Government-commissioned report into disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had previously refused to make public.
The Work and Pensions Committee looks into the policies and spending of the DWP, including benefits for people in and out of work, State Pensions and how private pensions are regulated.
The 79-page report, ‘The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits’, was received by the UK Government in September 2020 and followed a research project led by the National Center for Social Research which interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit.
A statement released along with the Committee’s publication of the report said it reveals that people who did not have income outside the benefits system “reported that they were often unable to meet essential day to day living costs”, such as food, rent and heating.
The Government Social Research Publication Protocol, in place since 2015, states that research of this kind should be published “no more than 12 weeks following agreement of final outputs”.
In December, the Secretary of State for the DWP, Thérèse Coffey, was given one final chance to reconsider her decision not to publish the research by the Committee.
Following her refusal, the Committee ordered the National Center for Social Research to give them a copy of the report for publication.
Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “The report gives a valuable insight into the experiences of people claiming health and disability benefits. While the system is working for some, we now know that others reported that they are still unable to meet essential living costs such as food and utility bills.
“By persisting in its decision to hide away evidence of the struggles people are facing, the DWP will only have further harmed its reputation with disabled people at a time when – as its own officials have acknowledged – lack of trust is a major issue.”
He added: “In order to rebuild its relationship with disabled people, the DWP must stop trying to bury uncomfortable truths.”
The Committee’s report in July on the disability employment gap included a section on DWP’s relationship with disabled people.
It cited a report from the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) which revealed that DWP officials acknowledged that lack of trust towards the Department of disabled people was ‘a major issue’.
You can read The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits report on the Work and Pension Committee microsite on GOV.UK here.
Find out more about the Work and Pensions Committee here.
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