Ending DWP’s “hostile environment” against disabled people – Labour Conference Fringe

This year, Z2K hosted a fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference to discuss what more can be done by the voluntary sector, local government and the Labour Movement to force DWP to make fundamental reforms to the disability benefit assessments and help those claimants affected in the meantime.

At last year’s Labour Party Conference, Jeremy Corbyn called for an end to the Government’s “hostile environment” against disabled people and for fundamental changes to the Department for Work & Pensions’ (DWP) discredited assessment processes for Social Security benefits, which for many feels like “institutionalised bullying”.That call was welcome and the growing public and political pressure since that speech has forced DWP to make some concessions.  However, in the past 12 months around a quarter of a million disabled and seriously unwell claimants have seen their claim rejected by DWP.  Many of those were in receipt of that benefit for years previously.

In the past few years, with the support of volunteers and pro bono lawyers, Z2K has helped hundreds of claimants pursue a formal appeal against DWP’s decision to the independent Tribunal.  Last year, over 90 per cent of those we helped won their appeal and had their Employment Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment reinstated.

Many other advice agencies and disabilities charities have similar success rates and the most recent Government statistics show that overall three quarters of appellants win.  However, we know we are only managing to help a fraction of those who need it.  The majority of those who are refused either do not realise that have a right to properly independent appeal or are put off by the prospect of dealing with DWP any further. This year, Z2K hosted a fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference to discuss what more can be done by the voluntary sector, local government and the Labour Movement to force DWP to make fundamental reforms to the disability benefit assessments and help those claimants affected in the meantime. The event was charied by Emma Dent Coad MP with speakers Shadow Disabilities Minster – Marsha De Cordova MP, select committee member Ruth George MP, Raji Hunjan – Z2K’s CEO and Jim Widdowson – Z2K’s client & spokesperson.

If you have any questions, please contact ellaabraham@z2k.org