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The DWP has finally surrendered and agreed to repay ESA claimants all the money that was unlawfully withheld from them, it was announced yesterday. The u-turn follows the publication of a highly critical report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In March of this year we reported that the DWP failed to award income-related ESA to around 70,000 claimants who were transferred from incapacity benefit to contribution-based ESA from 2011 onwards.

Affected claimants are owed between £2,500 and £20,000 each.

However, the DWP had insisted that they were only legally obliged to repay underpayments from 21 October 2014, when the upper tribunal first ruled that contribution-based and income-based ESA are a single benefit and that the DWP has a duty to assess claimants for eligibility to both types of ESA when a claim is made.

This meant that underpayments from before this date all the way back to 2011 were simply being ignored by the DWP.

The PAC report, published yesterday, accused the DWP of multiple failures:

“It failed to design a process that reflected its own legislation. It failed to subject that process to proper scrutiny. It failed to listen to its own staff, claimants, or external stakeholders and experts who told it things were going wrong and that it needed to slow down. And it failed to act even when it was painfully obvious that it was underpaying a significant number of people, taking over six years to take the necessary corrective action.”

Committee Chair, Meg Hillier MP, commented:

“Indifference has no place in the delivery of vital public services. It must be rooted out wherever it is found.

“The Department needs to explain what it is doing to improve both its management culture and its ability to gather and act promptly on critical intelligence.

“It must also set out how it will more quickly address the £1.7 billion of underpayments claimants miss out on each year.

“Half-hearted Whitehall targets offer no comfort to people struggling to make ends meet because of Government mistakes."

Within hours of the report being published, Esther McVey, secretary of state for work and pensions, made a statement saying that the DWP would be backdating ESA payments all the way to 2011. Claimants who have already received their backdating will have their case reviewed again to see if they are entitled to any more money.

Child Poverty Action Group, which had launched a legal challenge to the DWP’s original decision to limit backdating, welcomed the u-turn.

However, the DWP is still refusing to pay compensation for consequential losses, such as loss of free prescriptions, free dental care and free school meals.

Comments  

#14 Vonnie55 2018-10-14 17:42
Having sent information to them so they could look into my history in relation to underpayments of ESA. They just contacted me by phone saying that I was put on the correct ESA at the time, which was contribution based ESA, which he said I was better off than I would have been
on income related at time and since then. This means I am entitled to zilch!
Convenient for them, I'm afraid I don't believe them. He said if I appeal I would have produce every statement since 2012 so it can be done thoroughly. I had already had a conversation with them explaining the bank would give 1 month statement free, then thereafter each statement would cost £5 per statement! They had understood this and told me to send what I had. I sent 18 months worth of statements.
It was exhausting having to collect all this information for them and it was their mistake!
#13 ronald grant coleman 2018-10-03 14:35
Quoting Christophe:
Just wondered if anyone had yet received their backpayment? Thank you

I was on incapacity then put onto esa when can we expect the back payments and do you have to wait for dwp to send me a letter.
Would I be better off ringing them and asking them about Esther mcveys promise to pay monies owing to people.
#12 busboy 2018-10-01 16:00
Any updates regarding ANY payments being paid back to any one
+1 #11 lisajw 2018-09-21 00:05
Hi can someone explain what makes you eligible for underpayment of esa contributionary when was on iB? Thank you
#10 jason 2018-09-06 20:45
hi, iv been on IR ESA since 2014
Am I entitled to any backdated monies?

Regards

Jasoney
#9 JohnDee 2018-09-05 19:46
Quoting JohnDee:
I was converted to income-based ESA in 2011?

[...]have been told I don't apply but don't believe their denial!

The DWP have now told me that documentation pertaining to my transition " I can confirm that the information you requested has been destroyed in accordance with Departmental records management practices."

I still don't believe their denial but now they just delete the evidence!
+3 #8 Christophe 2018-08-23 20:19
Just wondered if anyone had yet received their backpayment? Thank you
#7 Vonnie55 2018-08-15 08:19
What is the criteria for being awarded IR ESA? I was put on Controibutionar y ESA when I was transferred to ESA from IB
Thanks
+1 #6 JohnDee 2018-07-28 04:31
Quoting P Sauter:
Ok now I am truly confused ....
How the hell do I make sense of what I am entitled to when they can't !

Request a SAR and get help looking through it.
#5 JohnDee 2018-07-28 04:29
I was converted to income-based ESA in 2011?

You can request a Subject Access Request (SAR) from the DWP for free - I got mine 163 days late (after four letters to the DWP and two letters to my MP!) and have been told I don't apply but don't believe their denial!

'Will try CAB to check through the SAR to see if they can make head nor tail of it and see exactly what the DWP did!

YMMV - Namaste
-1 #4 Chris 2018-07-24 10:22
When are we likely to find out if we are one of the said 70,000 people?
Has anyone called their offices to see if they are able to answer the question?
#3 P Sauter 2018-07-23 17:27
Ok now I am truly confused, I have been told a different account by the four DWP officials I have spoken to about this. My circumstances have not changed at all since 2011 when I was switched to Contributions Based ESA from Incapacity B. but I was initially told I could be eligible for back dated payments worth several thousand or more.

However then I was told they incorrectly thought I was single ?? and furthermore since I was presumed to be getting Severe Disablement in my Allowance I was better off on the Contributions based scheme and NOW not entitled to any back payments??

How the hell do I make sense of what I am entitled to when they can't ! Also they said if I claimed IR ESA I would be worse off, are they just trying to put people off claiming or what ?
#2 Paul 2018-07-19 21:25
Quoting RickB:
We then now urgently need advice on how to handle such payments if it puts you over £6k DWP limit, will DWP then penalise you (bearing in kind their compensation for underpayment is what cause it) and how do you avoid this.

You get one year too spend it before it counts as income
+2 #1 RickB 2018-07-19 13:49
We then now urgently need advice on how to handle such payments if it puts you over £6k DWP limit, will DWP then penalise you (bearing in kind their compensation for underpayment is what cause it) and how do you avoid this.

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