It’s been revealed that the government will pay out an average of £5,000 to claimants of disability benefits who had previously gone underpaid as a result of administrative errors within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The total number of people understood to have been affected and in line for some sort of payout is estimated to be in the region of 180,000.
More people could still be added to the list of underpaid claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), with the government already facing a bill for the resulting repayments in excess of £1 billion.
Some people have already received the money they were owed by the government in relation to ESA, with the amounts involved varying from case to case.
Analysis sent internally within the DWP but now publicly available says: “The Department estimates it will pay £970 million in historic underpayments largely over the financial years 2018/19 and 2019/20.”
The government has come in for strong criticism in relation to its handling of disability payments processes, as it has for the impact of its Universal Credit reforms, which are currently being phased in across the country.
Marsha de Cordova, the Labour Party’s shadow minister for disabled people, has accused the government of creating a “hostile environment for sick and disabled people”.
“Disabled people have been short-changed and denied the social security they were entitled to,” she said. “The government must ensure that disabled people who have been so unfairly treated are properly compensated.”
The DWP issued a statement on the matter saying: “anyone affected by this historic error will receive all of the money they are entitled to.
“We have worked with charities and other disability organisations to make sure that we are providing the right support to all affected claimants and are hiring and allocating more staff to do that.”
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The emergency £20 increase to Universal Credit payments introduced in response to the Covid pandemic could be taken away from prospective recipients from April next year.
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