Key digital services used to run the disability benefits system are still being branded “high risk” on accessibility, a year after secret Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reports found scores of its services were failing to comply with regulations.
DWP’s latest Digital Accessibility Compliance report, produced last month and obtained by Disability News Service (DNS), shows that less than half of its websites and other digital services (59 of 124) comply with public sector regulations on accessibility.
Once the report takes account of digital services that are due to be decommissioned, the figures are even worse, with only 59 of 150 compliant with the regulations.
Of these, 10 are seen as “very high” risk and another 28 described as “high risk”.
The report shows that – 14 months on from a previous report, also seen by DNS – there are still serious accessibility issues with two key digital services used to run the department’s personal independence payment (PIP) assessment system.
The PIP assessment tool (known as PIPAT) is still described in the latest report as “critical” and “high risk”.
PIPAT is used by DWP’s private sector assessment providers, Capita and Atos, to record all the information they need to know about disabled claimants for their assessments.
The PIP computer system – due to be replaced, but potentially not until 2025 – is also still described as “critical” and “high risk”.
Just as with the April 2022 report, DWP says this system has been “badged as high risk due to incidents with staff being unable to work due to the system not working for them”.
The report warns again – just as it did last year – that the accessibility problems with the work coach site could lead to a disability discrimination case being taken against the department under the Equality Act, as it is a recruitment website.
The Job Help website had previously been accessible but is now “non-compliant again” after being completely redesigned.
The Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018 came into force in September 2018, and Cabinet Office guidance warns that public sector bodies like DWP that do not ensure their websites or other digital services meet accessibility requirements “may be breaking the law”.
In its Freedom of Information Act response to DNS, the department said the report was “a snapshot in time” and there were “unknown pieces of information which makes it… inaccurate as a source of up-to-date compliance”.
A DWP spokesperson said this week: “We are prioritising our customer-facing digital services and replacing ageing IT systems to make our services accessible.
“But we know there is more to do and are improving services including upskilling our workforce and establishing a culture that prioritises accessibility across the Department.”
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