The Work and Pensions Committee has used parliamentary powers to ensure that the publication of a Government-commissioned report into disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system was published, as previously the Department of Work & Pensions had refused to make it public.
The report The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits was received by the Government in September 2020. It followed a research project led by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), which interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit. It reveals that people who did not have income outside the benefits system “reported that they were often unable to meet essential day to day living costs”, such as food, rent and heating.
The Government Social Research Publication Protocol, in place since 2015, states that research of this kind should be published “no more than 12 weeks following agreement of final outputs”.
In December, the Secretary of State was given one final chance to reconsider her decision not to publish the research. Following her refusal, the Committee ordered NatCen to hand over the report for publication.
Ella Smith, MEA Welfare Benefits Adviser summarises:
“The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) attempted to suppress the publication of a damaging piece of research which concluded that disabled people were not having their needs met by the welfare system. This report has been long awaited by the disabled community and it validates the experiences many have had with claiming benefits. It quotes from research participants who discuss how the level of benefits they receive are not enough to meet even their basic needs and that they struggle to live an independent and dignified life.
Despite the DWP'S continued refusal to publish its own research, the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee finally invoked rarely used powers to order the publication.”
Welfare Benefits Advisor