Skip to main content

Safeguarding vulnerable claimants


The Work and Pensions Committee is to examine how DWP supports vulnerable benefit claimants and whether its approach to safeguarding needs to change.

There are many people who claim benefits from DWP who are considered vulnerable and in need of special care, support or protection to ensure that they are able to access the public services they require from the Department. Although DWP implements a number of safeguarding processes to help provide additional support to these people, DWP does not currently have a statutory duty to safeguard the wellbeing of vulnerable claimants.

Over the three years from July 2019 to July 2022 the number of Internal Process Reviews (IPRs)—DWP’s internal investigations into allegations of DWP case handling which have fallen short of expected standards, with a severe negative impact on a claimant—has more than doubled. 140 IPRs were conducted into claimant deaths over this period compared with 64 reviews carried out between 2016 and 2019. This inquiry will look to evaluate DWP’s approach to safeguarding vulnerable claimants and to question what its responsibilities should be to support those who find it difficult to interact successfully with the benefit system.


Read the call for evidence here.


We understand that the issues raised in this work may be sensitive or upsetting. In addition to contacting your G.P., the following organisations may be able to offer support or further information:  

  • Samaritans—General support for everyone. Call 116 123 - 24 hours a day, every day, or email
  • Mind—for information, advice, and support for anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Call 0300 123 3393.
  • Citizens Advice—For independent, free advice provided by a network of charities online, over the phone and in person on a wide variety of issues including benefits, work, debt, housing, family and immigration. Their Adviceline is available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, by calling 0800 144 8848 (England) or 0800 702 2020 (Wales)

This inquiry is no longer accepting evidence

The deadline for submissions was Friday 13 October 2023.

Reports, special reports and government responses

No reports or special reports published.

Oral evidence transcripts

View all oral evidence transcripts
26 March 2024
Inquiry Safeguarding vulnerable claimants
Witnesses Mims Davies MP (Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work at Department for Work and Pensions), Viscount Younger of Leckie (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at Department for Work and Pensions), Elizabeth Fairburn (Customer Experience Director at Department for Work and Pensions), and Preeta Ramachandran (Southern Area Director, Work and Health Services at Department for Work and Pensions)
Oral Evidence
28 February 2024
Inquiry Safeguarding vulnerable claimants
Witnesses Rob Behrens (Ombudsman at Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman), and Rebecca Hilsenrath (CEO at Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman)
Oral Evidence
7 February 2024
Inquiry Safeguarding vulnerable claimants
Witnesses Jesse Nicholls (Barrister at Matrix Law), William Ford (Partner, Litigation & Housing & Social Care Departments at Osbornes Law), and Caroline Selman (Senior Research Fellow at Public Law Project)
Oral Evidence
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (SVC0078)
Anne-Marie & Declan O’Sullivan (SVC0077)
Bridport & District Citizens Advice (SVC0076)

Contact us

We can’t usually help you with an individual problem or a specific complaint.

  • Email:
  • Phone: 020 7219 8976 (general enquiries) | 020 7219 1679 (media enquiries)
  • Address: Work and Pensions Committee | House of Commons | London | SW1A 0AA