“DWP is ‘taking baby steps’ on sanctions when regime ‘is costing lives”

As a member of the Work and and Pensions select committee in the last Parliament, I led calls for the government to hold a full, independent inquiry into the use of inappropriate sanctioning by DWP staff. I believe any progress in this area should be welcomed but it does feel like the government is currently taking baby steps towards tackling an issue that the evidence suggests is costing lives.

It’s telling us that the government still won’t release any of the findings of their reviews into the deaths of people on social security. Nobody would expect personal details to be revealed but it’s not unreasonable to expect that our government, the one that David Cameron once promised would be the most transparent ever, should share the findings of their own investigations.

It simply reinforces the point that only a full independent review will suffice if we are to really get to the bottom of how the government’s sanctioning policies are affecting vulnerable people. The Work and Pensions select committee has twice recommended that the government should hold an independent  inquiry and, even though the former employment minister, Esther McVey, once promised the committee she would hold one, she went back on that commitment.

Immediately following the select committee inquiry I instigated,  Labour agreed to the committee’s recommendations in full but, as yet, we’ve heard nothing from the government in response.

I’m afraid the Tories are quite happy to continue with their narrative that people on social security are skivers and scrounger s to help smooth the way for another £12bn worth of cuts from the social security budget having made no attempt to explain where they think that saving will come from.

As I’ve said all along I believe the government will do everything it can to avoid a full independent inquiry  because certain ministers, past and present, have too much to hide and too much to lose.

For the full article in Disability News Service, click on link:  “DWP is ‘taking baby steps’ on sanctions when regime ‘is costing lives’.


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