The DWP have paid compensation to five claimants who have complained that they were wrongly advised by the department to claim universal credit (UC) and lost out as a result. The DWP say that they would welcome complaints from others who have been affected.
Universal Credit Director General Neil Couling told MPs in the Work and Pensions Committee this month that they have looked at 26 cases since April 2018 which may have involved claimants being wrongly advised by the DWP. In five of these cases they have paid compensation.
“For example, a claimant wanted to claim effectively contributory employment support allowance. They were wrongly advised to claim Universal Credit because the person on the end said, “There is no employment support allowance anymore.” There is contributory employment support allowance, so it was a mistake. The claimant claimed UC and lost their tax credits and is £63.84 a week worse off as a consequence. We are topping that amount back up to them every week as compensation because of our mistake in directing them to claim Universal Credit.
It is cases like that, where the claimant has complained to us and said, “Look, I am worse off. All I wanted was contributory employment support allowance.” We made a mistake so we stepped in and compensated them. I found five cases like that by looking at our records.”
Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Employment, was then asked by Steve McCabe MP:
“Anyone who is watching this and listening to it who thinks they have been misadvised or a victim of maladministration, who are not in the 26 that you referred to, you would welcome them making a complaint?”
Alok Sharma replied: “Yes, absolutely.”
You can read the Work and Pensions Committee oral evidence here (from Q212 onwards)