Could you be one of thousands owed £5,000 following government blunder?
The government has announced that tens of thousands of people who receive disability benefits are owed money after years of underpayments.
A blunder by the UK Government means that sick and disabled people have lost out on an average total of £5,000, which is now set to be repaid by the end of 2020.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed long-term mishandling of Employment and support allowance (ESA) which has resulted in an estimated 180,000 recipients being due arrears payments totalling £970 million.
The cost of paying recipients at a higher rate after their claims have been corrected is estimated to add another £700 million over the next seven years, a DWP analysis released on Wednesday showed.
Labour’s Marsha de Cordova, shadow minister for disabled people, said recipients “have been short-changed and denied the social security they were entitled to.
She said: “This mess is another example of how the Conservatives have created a hostile environment for sick and disabled people.
“The Government must ensure that disabled people who have been so unfairly treated are properly compensated.
“A Government that forces disabled people into debt and even makes some destitute is a disgrace.”
The underpayments resulted from the DWP’s failure to assess whether recipients qualified for income-related ESA rather than just the less generous contribution-based ESA when some 1.5 million people were transferred from older incapacity benefits to ESA between 2011 and 2014.
In a written statement to MPs on Wednesday, DWP minister Sarah Newton said £120 million had already been paid out to this first group after 320,000 cases were analysed, with an average payment of £7,000, and that a second wave of 250,000 cases, announced in July, will be worked on through 2019.
She said: “We now have a team of over 400 staff working through these cases, with a further 400 due to join the team through October and November, and will be assigning more staff to review the additional 250,000 cases.
“This will enable us to complete this important activity at pace.”
A DWP spokeswoman added: “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.”
Have you been affected by disability benefit underpayments? Let us know in the comments.