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Inquiry into DWP’s Treatment of Disabled People: A Critical Step Towards Justice

The UK government is set to face intense scrutiny over its treatment of Disabled people, as a parliamentary inquiry begins to investigate the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its policies. This inquiry marks a significant step towards addressing the long-standing grievances and systemic issues that have plagued Disabled benefit claimants.

Background and Purpose of the Inquiry
The inquiry will examine the DWP’s assessment processes and their impact on Disabled people. This follows numerous reports and campaigns highlighting the detrimental effects of the current benefits system. According to Disability News Service, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is already conducting an investigation into “grave and systematic violations” of Disabled people’s rights by the UK government. This includes the harmful consequences of the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) and the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments.

Key Issues and Evidence
Campaigners and Disabled people’s organisations have documented a range of issues with the DWP’s practices:

Assessment Controversies: The DWP’s assessment processes have been linked to severe outcomes, including the deaths of many claimants. The Canary reported that between December 2011 and February 2014, approximately 90 people per month died after being declared fit for work by the DWP.

Policy Reforms and Their Impact: Recent changes to the benefits system, such as the replacement of the Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity (LCWRA) element with a new health element only available to those claiming PIP, are set to deny support to thousands of Disabled people. The Big Issue highlights that these reforms will particularly affect those with severe mobility impairments, leading to significant financial and emotional stress.

Calls for Accountability: There have been persistent calls for an independent public inquiry into the deaths and severe impacts associated with the DWP’s policies. Labour MP Debbie Abrahams has emphasized the need for justice for the thousands who have died after being found fit for work.

DPOs like WECIL have long advocated for a fairer benefits system that recognises the diverse needs of Disabled people. The inquiry provides an opportunity for these voices to be heard and for systemic changes to be implemented.

The ongoing parliamentary inquiry and the UN investigation represent critical steps towards holding the DWP accountable and ensuring that Disabled people receive the support and respect they deserve. As this process unfolds, it is essential for DPOs and Disabled people to continue to share their experiences and advocate for meaningful reforms.

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