A new report shows a benefits system riddled with failings. But this isn’t a policy gone wrong – it’s one going exactly as planned
On Wednesday, the work and pensions select committee released its much-anticipated report into Britain’s disability benefit system and it pulled no punches. The picture it paints is one of incompetence and outright cruelty: assessments riddled with errors and omissions or even fabrications; poor use of medical evidence that often leads to people’s benefits being incorrectly removed; and a “lack of determination” from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to address its failings. As the MPs damningly put it, the disability benefit system has reached the point at which “a pervasive lack of trust is undermining the entire operation”.
How bad is the situation, exactly? A person with Down’s syndrome asked by an assessor how they “caught” it, according to one submission made to the committee. A woman reporting frequent suicidal thoughts asked why she had not yet killed herself. Another whose assessment said she walked a dog daily, when she can barely walk and does not own a dog. If you’re unsure how far this rot spreads, consider there were so many submissions made by disabled people across the country – 4,000, unprecedented for a select committee – that MPs had to publish a separate report highlighting them.