The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claims it has no record of whether it showed vital documents linking its “fitness for work” test with the deaths of benefit claimants to the expert it hired to review the assessment.
Even though DWP possesses the documents, it is claiming it holds no information in its records on whether they were passed to Dr Paul Litchfield.
Litchfield published the final two independent reviews of the work capability assessment (WCA) in December 2013 and November 2014, but neither of his reviews mentioned the documents linking the WCA and the deaths of claimants.
The documents include at least seven internal “peer reviews” – reports written by civil servants following the deaths of benefit claimants – that mention the WCA, and two “prevention of future deaths reports” written by coroners.
The existence of the documents was only revealed by Disability News Service (DNS) in the years after Litchfield’s final report was published.
If they were not shown to Litchfield, the suspicion will mount that DWP and its ministers took deliberate steps to cover up evidence of the fatal impact of the assessment on sick and disabled people.
Last month, DNS submitted a freedom of information request to DWP, asking whether it provided Litchfield with copies of the peer reviews and the two prevention of future deaths reports.
In its response, DWP says only: “This information is not held”.
The coroners’ letters followed the deaths of two men with mental health conditions in 2010 and 2013 and each warned of further such deaths if changes were not made to the WCA.
The call for evidence for Litchfield’s second review was issued on 10 June 2014, five months after coroner Mary Hassell had written to DWP following an inquest into the death of Michael O’Sullivan, who had had significant, long-term mental health problems.
Source: DWP ‘has no record’ of whether it showed WCA death documents to reviewer | DisabledGo News and Blog