The DWP’s ‘review’ of ESA claims is about TAKING money, not paying more

Did the government really overestimate the number of people who deserved a benefit refund – or did it just say that to victimise sick people?

The Mirror is reporting that the DWP “has slashed 90,000 people and £310m from a forecast of people who’ll be paid back the benefit ESA.

“A blunder dating back to 2011 meant thousands of claimants were awarded too little ESA – worth up to £111.65 a week – when they moved over from old-style incapacity benefit.

“Since 2017, the DWP has been working through 600,000 cases to check who was short-changed – and given back payments worth an average of £6,000.

“But this week it emerged an earlier estimate that 210,000 people would get refunds worth £920m was, in fact, wildly incorrect.

“Now the DWP estimates 120,000 people – almost half the previous number – will get back payments worth a lower total of £610m.”

I reckon I know a little about this.

Back in May, Mrs Mike was contacted by the DWP with a message stating: “You may be able to get more ESA.

“You were paid contribution-based ESA from 14/08/2012 to 29/05/2015,” it stated – falsely, “which replaced the Incapacity Benefit you were getting.

“You might also be eligible for income-related ESA for the above period. If you are, you may be eligible to extra payments. These are called premiums.”

Then it gave information on how to determine eligibility. It seemed to depend on whether a claimant, their partner or both had savings of more than £16,000, or whether the claimant’s partner worked 24 hours or more per week.

I was suspicious so we contacted Citizens’ Advice to check what was going on.

We were told this was a genuine exercise that involved a huge number of claimants, and the understanding was that there was a sincere desire to correct possible underpayments.

I was still concerned, because the fact is that Mrs Mike was not paid contribution-based ESA from August 14, 2012 to May 29, 2015 – she only had it until August 13, 2013.

This was because of one of the monumental cock-ups for which the DWP is justifiably infamous.

Mrs Mike had been wrongly put in the “work-related activity group” (WRAG). She was told this by an advisor during her first work-related activity interview, and was advised to appeal.

The DWP did not acknowledge the appeal or do anything about it apart from to attach a note to Mrs Mike’s file that she was not to be contacted under any circumstances.

We waited, and waited, and then her year in the WRAG ran out. I contacted the DWP by telephone to find out what this meant for her claim and was told that it had been cancelled. This is also when I found out about the “do not contact” note. No explanation for that has ever been given.

A period of negotiation then followed, after which it was decided that Mrs Mike would have to undergo another work capability assessment (WCA) and would be put on income-related ESA until it happened.

The new WCA never took place, though – the DWP decided it could handle the case on the papers and she was put on income-related ESA from that point on.

Still, we responded to the questions – no, and no – and sent the form in.

Earlier this month, Mrs Mike went through the roof when she received a letter from the DWP: “Our decision about your ESA review.”

It said: “You are not entitled to income-related ESA from 14 August 2012 as your partner was working 24 hours or more per week.”

This is transparently untrue.

We wrote back on October 11 to point this out and demand an explanation and have received nothing so far. In fairness, it is only nine days later. In 2013, the negotiations lasted three months.

Taking all this into account, I can form only one conclusion:

It seems to me that the DWP’s review was intended to reduce the number of people being paid, to claw cash back if possible and to put as many people in financial difficulty as it could.

The fact that one in 12 people who may have been underpaid have died should be indicative of what the DWP is really about.

And to the unknown number of claimants – or relatives – who have failed to respond to the DWP’s attempts at contact, or have refused to respond, my advice is: Don’t.

The people involved in this matter do not have your welfare at heart. They want your money – nothing more.

Source: DWP accused of ‘chaos’ after overestimating how many will get ESA benefit refund – Mirror Online

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3 thoughts on “The DWP’s ‘review’ of ESA claims is about TAKING money, not paying more

  1. Mark allinson

    Well I’ve got a question that the DWP won’t answer or show the proof and it’s very easy Aswel (1) just how many people have been underpaid the ESA and how are we suppose to even know who has been underpaid for them years how are we going to get to see the proof that these claiments were underpaid it’s just very strange how the DWP first came out with the figure of 210,000 but all of a sudden it now drops to 120,000 people all because that’s the new figure the lying DWP now say. If anybody was to ring up and make a enquiry about being underpaid the ESA the DWP will automatically tell the person they were not underpaid and the amount what they were paid was correct but just how are the claiments know that it’s the truth just because the DWP say that and in the meantime the DWP will be getting rid of the evidence and also covering themselves by making up the new ESA claims showing that the person was getting the right amount of money and will not get any ESA back payments what is due to them and now for a more serious question. (2) And just how are we really suppose to know the full truth that they have made contact with everybody who is all involved who were short paid the ESA money the DWP say they have wrote to the claiments this is only the DWP,s word that they have sent letters out and them saying that they have not had any contact back from the claiments or the person’s family because the person who was getting ESA has sadly died so just how can the DWP prove they sent letters out to the people involved the answer is they CANT it’s there word that they have sent letters out its most likely that they will be sending letters out to the claiments who are not due any money owed back from ESA to cover themselves and the people who do receive a letter won’t get any money so the truth is all the people who are truly due money will not get a penny back i think the only way and the proof that a claimant has been underpaid is if that these people kept every single award letter from all them years ago and put them safe in a tin but how many people will still have all the paperwork from all them years ago.

    1. Stella Salter

      Youe so right..my son should have recieved 1000s owed for his incapacity ben – esa..he was told it was being looked at..and she could see he should get a payment..he contacted them 2mths later to find out what was going on..esa said he wasnt getting anything..he had severe epilepsy and associated mental health issues.cant go out without supervision..esa placed him in wrk prog wrongly..even tho they were told by doctors of his condition..after two wrk interviews..they stopped making him go to interviews..and called him every two wks instead..addmittance that they put him in the wrong program…stole his sdp because esa put him in the wrong group..even tho under dla he has a lifetime award as he is only going to deteriorate over time..no chance of recovery..this from his neurologist…he has been on high rate care n mobility dla…and still is…not been put on pip..dwp/eda/gov…is a disgrace…and should all be shut dwn and staff changed accross the whole system…they are all liars and cheats..pip also owe me money sinve 2011..they say is is being assessed atm..i bet they pay nothing…i dont even know of anybody who has recieved a bk payment from any of the depts…who dwp claim have recieved funds..i beleave the so called over-estimation of esa..is less purely due to the true number of dissabled persons untimely deaths due to dwp and austerity..they are filth..scum of the earth..

  2. Stella salter

    My son had a lifetime award of dla for epilepsy and mental health issues.. Wen they switched him to esa, put him In work program.. Which he is not capable to do.. Still in work program.. Has been told he will not be getting his back pay.. Because if their mess up putting him in the wrong group.. He has told them consistentley that he is in the wrong group.. He can’t even walk dwn street without high risk of seizure.. As car lights can make him fit.. And has to be accompanied wen outside.. He has photosensitive and generalised epilepsy..

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