Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Iain Duncan-Smith regularly refers to what he regards at the benefits of working to justify his approach to reclassifying people who are unable to work as now fit for work. He cites research to support this view, but I am concerned that he and DWP only quotes selectively from the research and chooses to overlook the provisos this research contains.

In VTR3452 you have stated:
“We know that many people with disabilities or health conditions want to work, and are committed to identifying people for the correct support to get back to work and avoid ending up on long-term sickness benefits”, which means that the ‘system’ has in some way stopped disabled people who want to work from looking for a job. This is intended to make DWP sound no more than a “facilitator” helping people to achieve their own ambitions, rather it coercing people into work who are not capable of doing it.

Q1: What aspects of the ‘system’ were presenting this barrier? The fact that there was no WCA did not prevent people job hunting if they so wished – the only barriers were enough genuinely supportive employers and work that had been suitably adapted. The existence of equality legislation does NOT in itself guarantee compliance.

Q2: What evidence is there to support the phrase “MANY people” (implying the vast majority) rather than say “some people”. The report quoted does not make this clear.
The report referenced ( does in fact conclude that
“The likely benefits (of work) outweigh any potential risks, it equally points out that this statement is very much “In general, provided due care is taken to make jobs as safe and ‘good’. [It explains ‘good jobs’ as those “with appropriate accommodations and adjustments”], clearly recognising that “normal” (unadjusted) jobs will not be suitable. It emphasises this key point in also saying:
“The provisos are that account must be taken of the social context, the nature and quality of work, and the fact that a minority of people may experience contrary effects. Jobs should be safe and should also be accommodating for sickness and disability”. I would like to see the effort DWP has put into creating these ‘special’ jobs – putting the horse correctly before the cart as it were.

Q3: What evidence is there of the additional steps you have taken to ensure jobs are safe and ‘good’? Again legislation in itself does not guarantee compliance and DWP would have responsibly established true levels of compliance prior to proceeding with a plan based heavily on this assumption. Note I am looking for independently established, conclusive evidence, NOT just a DWP opinion.

This report also contains a number of qualifications not mentioned in the VTR3452 response or generally by DWP:

• There is a disclaimer pointing out that the views in the report are not necessarily shared by DWP, yet you are referencing its findings.

Q4: Please clarify; do you accept its findings in full or not? If not, where are DWP’s provisos recorded?

• The report states “Although the broad conclusions of this review are clear, several important issues need further clarification” and 7 such issues are listed.

Q5: What information is available to show that DWP has rigorously pursued these issues alongside the qualified conclusions the report draws?

The report does not claim that its conclusions apply to everyone and does point out that inappropriate application of its conclusions can have dire consequences.

Q6: Where is the risk analysis recorded that considered the consequences of declaring someone FFW whose health as a result deteriorated, perhaps resulting in early death?

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP LS FOI, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find attached response to your recent FOI request.

<<FoI 4149 4121 Newman.pdf>>


Central FOI Team

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