Justice for Jody Whiting petition

Jody Whiting took her own life in 2017 when her disability benefit payments were stopped because she missed a capability assessments. An independent inquiry into her death found that the DWP failed 5 times to follow their own safeguarding rules in the weeks leading up to her suicide.

A petition has been launched which calls for:

1. An independent inquiry to investigate DWP failings in relation to these deaths, including whether there has been misconduct by civil servants or Ministers. 

2. Any evidence of misconduct contributing to serious harm or deaths to be turned over to the police. 

3. Recognition that DWP is institutionally disablist and not fit for purpose. 

4. DWP to urgently change its policies and administration of social security benefits to make the safety of all claimants a priority.

So far, the petition has been signed by nearly 18,000 people. At 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in parliament. You can sign the petition here.

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70% of benefit appeals find in favour of claimants, figures show

More than two-thirds of people who faced being denied social security benefits were found to be entitled to that support, prompting calls by the SNP for a fresh review of the DWP assessment and appeals process.

Official government figures show that 70% of people who faced the possibility of losing their entitlement, and took this decision to hearing, had their cases overturned.

Social Security and Child Support appeal disposals totaled 51,256 in the quarter up to December 2018 and 41,171 (80 per cent) were cleared at hearing. Of those cases cleared at hearing, 70 per cent were found in favour of the claimant (up from 65 per cent on the same period in 2017).

Read the full article here.

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Disability News Service News 21st Feb

Long-awaited Newton meeting confirms confusion over DPO engagement

Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) have raised ongoing concerns about the government’s failure to comply with basic principles of the UN disability convention at a long-awaited meeting with the minister for disabled people.

Representatives of six of the UK’s leading DPOs met with minister for disabled people Sarah Newton and senior civil servants last week to discuss the government’s track record on engaging with disabled people and their user-led organisations.

It was the first time that Newton (pictured) had met with the group of DPOs – members of the UK CRPD Monitoring Coalition of Disabled People’s Organisations – since she took up her post in late 2017.

Read the full article here.

Council told to improve disability equality training after councillor’s ‘ignorant’ attacknull

A disabled politician has described the equality training given to fellow councillors as “a joke” after a Liberal Democrat rival was forced to apologise for posting a message on social media that accused him of using his impairment for political purposes.

The comments by Lib Dem Joe Naitta were targeted last June at fellow Derby city councillor Amo Raju, who is a Labour party member and also chief executive of the user-led organisation Disability Direct.

Naitta said in a Facebook post to his supporters: “This one uses his disability, get rid of labour in Blagreaves ward.”

Read the full article here.

Disabled residents play ground-breaking co-production role in major development

Disabled people have played a “ground-breaking” role in co-producing a major new redevelopment scheme.

The role played by disabled people in the planning application to redevelop Hammersmith town hall and the surrounding area in London is the first major product of a pioneering agreement to embed a genuine culture of co-production within Hammersmith and Fulham council.

A report last year by the Hammersmith and Fulham Disabled People’s Commission (pictured, the report’s launch) was accepted in full by the council and hailed as a blueprint for disabled people’s organisations across the country to push for change from their own local authorities.

Read the full article here.

Watchdogs’ comments boost hopes for rail access improvements

Powerful warnings from two watchdogs about the barriers faced by disabled passengers have been welcomed as a “wonderful step in re-instating access to rail for all” by a leading accessible transport expert.

One of the two watchdogs, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), warned the government and train operating companies that two major elements of the rail system could be discriminating against disabled passengers.

In a letter to MPs on the Commons transport select committee, EHRC chair David Isaac says the commission is concerned about the impact of “ongoing transport policies”, particularly the move towards running more trains without a member of customer services staff on board – driver-only operated (DOO) trains – and an increase in unstaffed stations.

Read the full article here.

Call for urgent probe into police passing DWP information about protesters

There are growing concerns and calls for an urgent investigation into admissions by two police forces that they have shared information about protesters with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Both Lancashire and Greater Manchester police forces have now admitted passing on information to DWP about people taking part in protests.

The admissions originally came following claims reported by Disability News Service (DNS) that police forces had been targeting disabled people taking part in peaceful anti-fracking protests across England.

Read the full article here.

DWP ‘refused reasonable adjustments for community recruits’

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) repeatedly failed to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people who were recruited to build bridges between jobcentres and the local community, it has been claimed.

But the department also appears to be set to discard all the disabled people they recruited from outside the Civil Service when their fixed-term contracts end.

It is feared that none of the scores of Community Partners taken on by DWP to build relationships between jobcentres and local organisations will secure permanent roles when their contracts end at the end of next month.

Read the full article here.

Jodey Whiting: DWP continued to phone woman who took her own life, inquiry finds

he Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) continued to phone and write to a disabled woman who had taken her own life after having her benefits stopped, an independent investigation has found.

The report by the Independent Case Examiner (ICE), Joanna Wallace, concluded that the DWP has no system that immediately alerts all the relevant staff that a claimant of employment and support allowance (ESA) has died.

Because of that failure, DWP continued to phone mum-of-nine Jodey Whiting, and leave voice messages for her, and also wrote to her, after she had taken her own life in February 2017.

Read the full article here.

Jodey Whiting: DWP ignored five ‘safeguarding’ chances before WCA suicide

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed five times to follow its own safeguarding rules in the weeks leading up to the suicide of a disabled woman with a long history of mental distress, an independent investigation has found.

The Independent Case Examiner (ICE) concluded that DWP was guilty of “multiple” and “significant” failings in handling the case of mother-of-nine Jodey Whiting (pictured), who had her out-of-work disability benefits stopped for missing a work capability assessment (WCA), and took her own life just 15 days later.

The report is the latest evidence of the institutional failure of DWP to guarantee the safety of disabled people – and particularly those with a history of mental distress – within the “fitness for work” system.

Read the full article here.

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