The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted that it will spend nearly £3.5 million this year on developing a new website that will offer basic advice to employers on supporting disabled employees.
The department plans to spend £6.4 million on the Support with Employee Health and Disability service over three years.
DWP has now told Disability News Service (DNS) that it expects to have spent £3.4 million on the website by the end of March 2023, even though the service just offers a few pages of basic advice for employers and managers.
In a freedom of information response, DWP said: “We expect to have spent £3.4m by the end of this financial year, including on detailed research, digital build, management and marketing costs.
“The service continues to be developed and expanded in response to feedback from small business users and expert stakeholders.”
It is unclear so far how DWP can justify the cost of the website, with some critics already branding it a “waste of money” and one asking: “How the hell does a website cost six million pounds?”
Claire Coutinho, who was briefly minister for disabled people under prime minister Liz Truss, deleted a social media post in which she bragged about the millions of pounds being spent on the website, shortly after DNS raised concerns about it with DWP last month.
DWP has previously stated that there will be “an extensive programme of work” on the website over a three-year period, and that the current site is an “early and limited” version of the service.
But Vicky Foxcroft, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said: “Spending this amount of money on a website is shocking.
“Disabled people deserve bold policies that will make real improvements to their lives at work. Instead, they have wasteful Tory ministers pursuing vanity projects.
“The DWP needs to explain how they justify spending taxpayer money like this. The public deserves better.”
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