DWP loses more cases for disability discrimination than any other UK employer

The Department for Work and Pensions has been forced to conduct a review after it was found to have lost more employment tribunals for disability discrimination than any other employer in Britain.

BBC Panorama said its research showed the DWP lost 17 of 134 claims of discrimination against its disabled workers from 2016 to 2019, adding this was the most cases in total and most cases lost in that period.

Freedom of Information requests showed that between April 2017 and June 2019 the department settled 45 claims out of court at a cost of £713,000. The rest of the costs were awarded to people who won tribunals.

Work and pensions minister Justin Tomlinson told MPs a review has been instigated of  DWP 's processes and actions to ensure all employees are "treated fairly and with respect".

Speaking in the Commons, shadow work and pensions minister Mike Amesbury said: "The Department for Work and Pensions has lost more employment tribunals for disability discrimination than any other employer in Britain.

"Is the Secretary of State (Therese Coffey) shocked by her department's own disability tribunal record given that it should be, as the minister said, leading by example?


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"What will the Secretary of State do to rectify this?"

Mr Tomlinson replied: "Fair and respectful treatment is a right and we do not tolerate discrimination in any form within the workplace, including within our workplace.

"We have instigated a review of our processes and actions to ensure all employees are treated fairly and with respect.

"And I am proud that as a department since 2014 there was 6.8% of our workforce identified as having a disability, we are now at 15.3% – well above the civil service average of 11.7% – as we are keen to be a fully inclusive and diverse workforce to benefit from the full potential."

Earlier, Mr Tomlinson also said reports that disabled people appealing against decisions denying them benefits are "being pressured to accept unrecorded telephone deals" paying thousands of pounds less than they may be legally entitled to is "not something that should be happening".

He said "we will review that" as Labour's Lilian Greenwood raised the issue during  DWP  questions, asking: "How can this practice possibly be acceptable?"

The MP for Nottingham South said: "We all want to see more disabled people supported into work, but it's also vital that they receive the support they're entitled to through employment and support allowance (ESA) and personal independence payments (PIP).

"It's been reported recently that vulnerable and disabled people appealing against decisions denying them those benefits, are being pressured to accept unrecorded telephone deals paying thousands of pounds less than they may be legally entitled to, and his department is accused of telling some people that the offer would be withdrawn if they didn't accept it within minutes. How can this practice possibly be acceptable?"

Mr Tomlinson said: "I thank (her) for raising that, that was covered in the media.

"That is not something that should be happening.

"What we have done is changed the… process so that we can try and support those claimants who are challenging a decision to gather the additional written and oral evidence at that stage rather than them having to wait for the lengthy independent appeal process.

"Stakeholders and charities are extremely supportive of this process, it is new, it is making a significant difference, but I'm disappointed to hear that in some cases it hasn't been of the standard that it should be and we will review that."

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