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DWP to pay out £970 million in ESA underpayments

DWP to pay out £970 million in ESA underpayments

Disability Rights UK reports that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimates it will pay out £970 million in underpayments to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants who were underpaid following the migration from incapacity benefit.

Earlier this year, a report by the National Audit Office and a Public Accounts Committee report estimated 70,000 disabled people had been underpaid due to the DWP’s failure to consider if they qualified to be paid top up income-based ESA.

Both the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee claimed that the situation was entirely avoidable, and criticised the DWP’s failure to design a process that reflected ESA legislation or to listen to its staff, claimants or stakeholders who drew attention to the problem.

The DWP has begun the process of reviewing around 900,000 ESA cases to identify those that could be affected. It expects to complete its review and pay arrears to all cases back to their date of conversion to ESA by the end of 2019.

Disability Rights UK Deputy CEO Sue Bott said, “the DWP has known about these underpayments since 2013. They spent five years trying to hide behind constructing a legal argument as to why they shouldn’t pay up despite the hardship they have caused to tens of thousands of disabled people.”

“Earlier this year, thankfully, they abandoned this approach. We urge DWP to urgently ensure all underpayments are rectified as soon as possible. Enough is enough.”

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