Sunday Mirror


MP wants public inquiry into DWP

- JOHN SIDDLE and JOHN PRING scoops@sundaymirr­

BENEFITS chiefs have launched secret inquiries into deaths of 140 disability claimants during Boris Johnson’s three years as PM.

The probes are triggered when tragedies are linked to the Department of Work and Pensions own actions – such as stopping benefits.

Even grieving families are not told of the investigat­ions.

Now a Labour MP has called for a public inquiry into what the DWP calls Internal Process Reviews over tragedies including suicides.

Debbie Abrahams, a former shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “It is shameful the

DWP won’t release these reports to families. We need to know the full scale and causes of these deaths.”

The DWP started its secret probes in 2012 – and they are on the rise. The latest three-year figure is higher than the 126 over the previous five years. Imogen Day lost disabled sister Phillipa, 27, in 2019. She took an overdose after being told she needed a face-to-face assessment to claim.

A coroner said flaws in the Personal Independen­ce Payment system were “the predominan­t factor”

that led to her death. The Days, of Nottingham, are believed to be the only family to see IPR results after taking legal action.

Imogen said: “It is infuriatin­g and heartbreak­ing we will never know how many disabled people are really dying.”

The DWP started 43 IPRs into deaths between July 2019 and June 2020, 59 from July 2020 to June 2021, and 38 in the last year. Ms Abrahams said: “It’s worth reiteratin­g these are only the deaths we are aware of. They are the worst of the worst the DWP feels compelled to investigat­e.”

The Deaths by Welfare Project, which investigat­es deaths linked to welfare reform, says experts have alerted the DWP to life-threatenin­g systemic flaws more than 40 times over 30 years. A DWP spokesman said: “We take these cases seriously. We have broadened the range of circumstan­ces where a review is carried out.”

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