The Bishop of Durham received the following written answers on 31st January 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Durham asked Her Majesty’s Government how many cases have been reported to the Department for Work and Pensions via the coroners focal point since February 2020.
Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con): From February 2020 to January 2022, 46 cases have been raised via this channel. This figure includes enquires made by the police and other bodies, and erroneous referrals where we signposted the enquirer elsewhere as appropriate.
The Lord Bishop of Durham asked Her Majesty’s Government what plans, if any, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has to meet with the group of bereaved families calling for an independent public inquiry into deaths and serious harm related to the benefits system.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The Secretary of State and her ministerial team regularly meet external stakeholders to gain insight into customers’ experiences of the benefits system, and to determine how it might be improved.
The Department’s key obligation is to ensure that claimants receive the benefits that they are entitled to, in a timely manner. We are committed to learning from cases where there is suggestion or allegation that the Department’s actions or omissions may have negatively contributed to the customer’s circumstances. We conduct internal retrospective investigations (known as Internal Process Reviews) to capture these lessons and take them forward to inform future policy and service.
There also exists a wide, independent and transparent system for investigating such cases, including the Independent Case Examiner, the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman and (where engaged) Coroners’ Courts in England and Wales.
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