Reply To: HB ??

Mike Hughes

It’s an interesting one really. Local authorities have safeguarding responsibilities but outside of social work teams there is a general and wholly inaccurate assumption it only applies to cases with which social workers have an involvement.

After the intervention of the EHRC, DWP have effectively been forced down this road and so things like PIP claims now have vulnerability/additional help markers added and, when they have no contact, DWP find themselves obliged to keep the claim open; make multiple attempts to contact the claimant and also contact those parties known to DWP to have been involved in the case at some point e.g. GP, consultant, WR adviser and so on. It produces some ill-thought through results – we were recently copied in on a letter to a claimant where an adviser hadn’t dealt with the person for the best part of a decade – but it is clearly best practice and avoids litigation.

Note that primary nor secondary legislation has not been changed to facilitate the above. It simply moves DWP to where they ought to have been all along i.e. being aware that if most of your client base have health conditions then you need to ensure you comply with the general public law duty to use all data available to you including proactively searching that out from related parts of your organisation and you don’t just take a one size fits all “not responded within deadline and therefore we can terminate” approach without further enquiries.

This will be coming down the line for LA HB, CT and CTR staff at some point and I don’t think there’s any avoiding it really as the obligations are quite clear.

In this instance I’d suggest the person sought advice because generally speaking people don’t simply give up on claims without any reason at all. It’s almost always health related or related to personal circs. and one letter and then closure ought not to suffice.