A BBC documentary has revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has lost more disability discrimination cases at employment tribunal than any other employer in Britain since 2016.
Monday’s Panorama programme* reported on DWP’s “shocking track record” of discriminating against its own disabled employees.
It found that DWP lost 17 of 134 claims of discrimination against its own disabled staff in tribunals between 2016 and 2019, which Panorama heard was a far higher failure rate than usual for such cases. It also settled many disability discrimination cases out-of-court.
In that time, it paid out more than £950,000 to disabled employees who had brought claims against the department, including more than £700,000 in out-of-court settlements.
In October 2018, Disability News Service (DNS) reported how the employment tribunal had dealt with almost 60 claims of disability discrimination taken against DWP by its own staff over a 20-month period.
Last year, DNS revealed that the proportion of DWP staff who said they have been victims of disability discrimination at work in the previous 12 months had risen by about 50 per cent in just four years.
DWP claimed this week that it did “not tolerate discrimination in any form” and was “shocked that, when presented in this way, the data shows us in this light”.
It claimed it had “made significant progress over the last few years to support employees with disabilities” and had “instigated a review of our processes and actions following tribunal cases, to ensure all our employees are treated fairly and with respect”.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has finally launched the government’s attempt to secure cross-party consensus on how to fund adult social care.
Hancock has written to MPs and peers asking for views, proposed solutions, and any concerns about “how to secure a long term, sustainable solution to ensure the reforms will last long into the future”.
The next stage of the process will begin in May with “structured talks on reform options”.
Boris Johnson announced outside 10 Downing Street on 24 July last year, after becoming prime minister, that his government would “fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared”.
Three months later, his pledge in the Queen’s speech to bring forward proposals to solve the adult social care crisis was dismissed as “waffle” and “a smokescreen” by leading disabled campaigners, with one saying it was “designed to confuse and give the appearance of action when the reality is the opposite”.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) originally promised that a green paper on adult social care would be published by the end of 2017, and then July 2018, before delaying it to the autumn and then the end of 2018.
After missing the December 2018 deadline, it was delayed until “the earliest opportunity” in 2019, before Hancock told MPs it would be published by April last year.
Neither the green paper nor Johnson’s “plan” have yet been published.
The Commons health and social care committee has launched an inquiry to establish how much extra money needs to be spent on social care by the government in each of the next five years.
The committee is now chaired by Jeremy Hunt, who has been blamed by many for failing to address the social care funding crisis when he was health secretary and then health and social care secretary between 2012 and 2018.
He said: “This longstanding crisis comes with a huge cost to families and individuals who can’t get the social care they need.
“But it affects us all when a lack of availability prevents people leaving hospital, contributing to increased pressure on the NHS.
“We’ll be establishing an agreed figure that represents the extra funding that’s needed in each of the next five years in order to fix this.”
*DNS editor John Pring was a consultant on the programme
Picture: Presenter Richard Butchins (right) talks to one of the victims of DWP discrimination featured in the Panorama documentary
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