Investigation into DWP will focus on treatment of 'two specific groups of people'

A new investigation into the Department for Work and Pensions will focus on specific groups of people claiming disability benefits. Britain’s equality regulator has launched an investigation into the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP ) over concerns about the treatment of some disabled benefits claimants.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is looking at health assessment determinations, which form part of the application process for some benefits, including Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The focus of the investigation will be whether the DWP has failed to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people "with learning disabilities or long-term mental health conditions" during health assessment determinations, the EHRC has also said.

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The DWP will be expected to provide information to EHRC investigators over the course of the investigation and PSED assessment. Stakeholders such as disability charities will be asked to share any relevant information which they may have with the EHRC.

Whistleblowers who currently or have previously worked for the DWP on health assessments are also encouraged to provide evidence, including those who may have worked on the DWP’s behalf for a private contractor. All evidence will then be reviewed to inform the outcomes of the EHRC’s investigation and assessment.

On its website, EHRC explains: "We are Britain’s independent equality and human rights regulator. We are a United Nations accredited ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institution (NHRI). Our role is to make the country a fairer place by enforcing and upholding the laws that safeguard everyone’s right to fairness, dignity and respect."

A DWP spokesperson told the Press Association news agency: “The Government is committed to improving the lives of disabled people and our recent Disability Action Plan sets out 32 actions we are taking to make the UK the most accessible country in the world for disabled people to live, work and thrive.

“The DWP is committed to providing a compassionate service to all our customers. Benefits assessments are carried out by qualified health professionals with reasonable adjustments available to protect vulnerable claimants. We take our obligations under the Equality Act incredibly seriously, including the Public Sector Equality Duty, and will continue to cooperate with the Commission.”