Claimants are suffering months of hardship because the DWP falsely state that they have not received their claim form, Bob Doris, convener of Holyrood’s social security committee has alleged. Doris has written to Work and Pension secretary Amber Rudd, demanding urgent action.
The problem was brought to the attention of Doris by Glasgow North West Citizens Advice, according to the Daily Record. Staff there have helped claimants complete forms and sent them off in prepaid DWP envelopes, only to be told that they were not received.
In some cases the DWP suddenly “find” the form, which they then claim has only just arrived, after repeated phone calls and increasing pressure from the claimant. But this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to three months.
Doris told Rudd: “People can be waiting over 26 weeks for new claims and a mandatory reconsideration, then up to six months for appeal.
“Essentially vulnerable constituents are often left waiting a year for money they are entitled to, and have to battle a work backlog, an imperfect assessment process and the risk of forms going missing.”
The problem is undoubtedly connected the fact that DWP have cut staff by a massive 21% - a total of 19,189 job losses – since 2013, the Independent has revealed.
This means that at the same time as the department has been rolling out two massively complex changes to the system, the switch from DLA to PIP and the move from legacy benefits to universal credit, it has been cutting staff at a rate that would have made even their ordinary workload unsustainable.
No wonder then, that staff have resorted to losing claim packs.
Benefits and Work would be interested to hear readers stories of disappearing DWP documents.