- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
I am alarmed that a DWP administrative error has meant that nearly 180,000 people claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) have been underpaid and may be owed an average of £5,000 each. This has caused untold distress to ill and disabled people.
In July this year, the Government initially estimated that 70,000 ESA claimants had been underpaid, but it is now clear that it is more than double that amount. At Business Questions on 18 October 2018, I asked the Leader of the House why it has taken legal action by Child Poverty Action Group for the Government to acknowledge and correct this fault.
An Urgent Question asked by a Labour MP on Thursday 18 October 2018 forced the Minister to come to the House and make a statement on the updated figures on the ESA underpayments. The Government estimates that it will have to pay up to £1 billion in back-payments to claimants and is having to review over half a million cases. The shocking scale of the Government’s error means that some people will be waiting until the end of 2019 for their payments to be reviewed.
Alongside this historic error, the roll-out of the Government’s flagship policy on Universal Credit is causing real hurt to people as half of all lone parents and two thirds of couples with children stand to lose £200 each month.
The Secretary of State for the Work and Pensions has admitted that people will be worse off under Universal Credit. I voted to ask the Government to release its own assessment of the impact of Universal Credit, but the Government voted against the motion and it was defeated. It is clear that the Government has little regard for transparency and accountability.