Fresh evidence that DWP bars email communication from disabled claimants

Fresh evidence has emerged that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has refused to allow benefit claimants to communicate via email, despite its claims that it allows disabled people with “valid reasons” to do so.

Last week, one disabled PIP claimant, Mark Lucas, told how he was taking legal action against DWP for refusing to allow him to communicate with its civil servants via email as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act.

DWP insisted in its response that “claimants are entitled to request to receive all communications from the department by email on the grounds of disability under the Equality Act 2010“.

But after Lucas’s story was published, other disabled people have come forward to cast doubt on that response, and have described how DWP has refused to let them deal with their benefit claims by email.

One claimant, disabled campaigner Graham Kirwan, who represents Dudley Centre for Inclusive Living on accessible information issues, told Disability News Service (DNS) that DWP paid him £1,700 damages to settle his claim against the department for refusing to communicate with him by email over his personal independence payment (PIP) claim.

In settling the case, which Kirwan took himself as a “litigant in person”, DWP admitted that it had failed to make reasonable adjustments for him, stating: “The Department accepts that it has not sent you communications in your required format and that it has taken an unreasonably long time to agree and make the reasonable adjustments you have requested.”

Kirwan had previously been a long-term claimant of disability living allowance (DLA), but had his payments suspended when he failed to respond to letters asking him to apply for PIP, its working-age replacement, letters that he says he never received and that would not have been accessible to him anyway.

Kirwan, who is partially-sighted, has computer software that can magnify text, but it does not usually work with scanned or PDF documents.

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