Thursday, 24 December 2015

MP criticises benefit underpayments

North Ayrshire & Arran MP Patricia Gibson has expressed concern that errors and delays by the Tory-run Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) are resulting in families going hungry.

Mrs Gibson referred to a report published by the UK Parliament’s cross-party Work and Pensions Select Committee, which warned that, while parts of the benefits system worked well, there is evidence of “too many errors and too many delays” in relation to payments being made to claimants. 

The committee of MPs also highlighted it had not been possible to fully scrutinise some benefit delays due to an “unacceptable” lack of information from the DWP about Employment and Support Allowance, Work Capability Assessments and mandatory reconsideration clearance-times.

Committee members noted that while the DWP has a target to reduce benefit overpayments, no target is in place to ensure claimants receive the full benefits to which they are entitled.  In the past financial year (2014/15), claimants were underpaid by a staggering £1.5bn.

Patricia Gibson, SNP MP for North Ayrshire & Arran said, “This should be remedied immediately as underpayments can have an enormous impact on claimants and their ability to pay for essentials.

“Some people wait up to six weeks to receive their first benefit payment under Universal Credit. This is totally unacceptable and can only ensure undue hardship is inflicted on some of our poorest and vulnerable constituents.”

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