Tag Archives: DWP

DWP warns households they may not get cost of living payment next week

For once, this is not about the Department for Work and Pensions deliberately making our lives harder.

It seems to be a simple warning that it’s impossible to get the second instalment of the cost of living payment out to all households at the same time.

And, in fairness, while the payment starts to be dished out on Tuesday (November 8), the deadline isn’t until November 23 (November 30 for people on tax credits and legacy benefits).

Here’s the story from My London:

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued an urgent warning to households who are expecting the second instalment of the cost of living payment next week. The government department has said that not everyone should expect the payment to arrive on Tuesday, November 8.

Around eight million families are set to receive the payment, which aims to support qualifying low-income households with the rise in the cost of living. The £324 payment is the second lump sum of a £650 payment.

The first payments of £326 were made from July 14 onwards. For the second instalment, the DWP has warned that “a small number” of households will receive payments on November 8, with “numbers increasing significantly” from November 9 onwards, reports Liverpool Echo. The deadline for most payments to be made is November 23.

It is thought that families in receipt of Tax Credits and other eligible legacy benefits will get their money from November 23-30.

Source: DWP’s urgent warning to households expecting cost of living payment next week

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DWP rejects MPs’ plea to pause benefit deductions – hides it behind Queen’s funeral

The Department for Work and Pensions has refused to stop taking money from already-inadequate benefit payments – and has hidden the decision by releasing it while the media were focused on the Queen’s funeral.

MPs on the Commons’ Work and Pensions Select Committee called for the DWP to stop debt repayments being deducted from benefits, back in July.

They said deductions should be restarted only when inflation eased or benefit levels caught up.

It seems DWP chiefs have spent around two months waiting for “a good day to bury bad news”, as the saying goes.

According to Open Democracy,

[MPs] said the debt deductions were causing “hardship” for “households currently struggling with huge financial pressures”, and people needed “breathing space”.

Nearly half (45%) of people on Universal Credit are currently having deductions taken out of their benefits to repay debts, at an average of £62 a month. The debts are typically caused by historic overpayments and other errors, advance payments made during the five-week-wait for Universal Credit, and by arrears on energy costs and other priority bills. Currently the government can deduct up to a quarter of someone’s benefits each month to repay these debts.

MPs heard from charities including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that these deductions were “a key factor in destitution”. The Trussell Trust said the practice was pushing “people into destitution and needing to turn to a food bank”.

Now brace yourself for the DWP’s nonsense justification for putting people into destitution:

the Department for Work and Pensions said it did not believe pausing deductions was “necessarily in the claimant’s best interest”. It said that if that deductions were paused between now and the April 2023 rise, people might then not notice the impact … when it comes … and people might “feel no better off”.

But they’re not going to feel better-off anyway if the whole uplift has to go towards servicing debts that could be avoided if the DWP simply paused these deductions for a while.

The government also rejected MPs’ calls to bring forward the uprating of benefits, currently not due to take effect till April 2023. In April this year, benefits were increased by an inflation rate that was seven months out of date – rising 3.1%, at a point when inflation was already running at 9%.

So already, people on benefits are receiving far less than they should, simply to keep up with inflation.

Claimants are eligible for additional money to help with housing costs – but this is “not intended” to cover the rent fully in many areas, meaning people have to make that shortfall up from their benefits, too. MPs called for the housing element to be increased, as happened during the pandemic, but the government rejected this call, too, citing its work on helping people on benefits save for a deposit to buy a house instead. According to housing charity Shelter, most private tenants have a shortfall, as the maximum amount is set to cover only the lowest 30% of rents in any given area, and there are other exclusions as well.

It should be easy to conclude from this that the Tory “benefit” system is unfit for purpose and the sooner they are taken out of its administration, the better.

And the reason the DWP is refusing to take action to stop people on benefits from falling into debt and destitution should be clear: that is exactly what the Tory system is designed to do.

Source: DWP rejects ‘cost of living’ plea by MPs to pause benefit deductions | openDemocracy

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DWP won’t contact over 100,000 ESA claimants owed millions in compensation

This comes courtesy of Benefits and Work; This Site is just passing it on:

The DWP has refused to follow a recommendation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to contact over 100,000 ESA claimants who are owed compensation totalling many millions for DWP errors. However, one claimant has been awarded £7,500 in compensation and we explain below how you can begin a claim if you were affected.

The issue relates to mistakes made by the DWP which began over a decade ago.

In 2011 the DWP began transferring claimants from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance (ESA). However, in many thousands of cases the DWP only assessed claimants for contribution based ESA and failed to check whether they should also have been awarded income-based ESA.

Eventually, after many complaints and awards to claimants who had missed out, the DWP reluctantly launched a LEAP exercise to identify claimants who had been victims of their error.

This resulted in 118,000 claimants getting backdated awards of ESA, in many cases amounting to thousands of pounds. Others also got awards outside of the LEAP scheme.

However, these claimants were not told that they might also be entitled to special payments because they had missed out on other benefits or undergone hardship as a result of the DWP’s maladministration.

Indeed, the DWP specifically told claimants that they could not complain to the Independent Case Examiner and did not tell them about the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

However, one claimant – known as Ms U – had advice from a welfare rights worker. As a result, she did complain the PHSO after the DWP refused to pay her compensation in addition to £19, 832 in backdated ESA.

The PHSO found that Ms U had suffered considerable hardship and her health had suffered as a result of the DWP’s failures. She had also missed out on free prescriptions, warm home discount payments and other help such as paying for a washing machine.

The PHSO recommended that the DWP pay Ms U £7,500 as compensation and also pay interest on the back payment of ESA.

The DWP paid Ms U, but refused to follow another recommendation of the PHSO.

This was that they contact claimants both within the LEAP exercise and outside it who had been given ESA arrears due to their maladministration, look into their circumstances and award them any appropriate compensation.

Instead the DWP argued that: “should a claimant feel that they should receive compensation due to their individual circumstances, they can contact the Department and set out their reasons. All requests received will be considered on a case by case basis.”

The DWP know very well that almost none of the affected claimants will ever discover that they might be entitled to compensation and thus they will never know to ask for it.

In a recently released letter dated 10 May 2022, the PHSO said that they were “extremely disappointed” with the DWP’s decision not to follow their recommendations.

Unfortunately the PHSO has no power to force the DWP to do so.

We know that only a small proportion of Benefits and Work readers will have been affected by this issue.

But if you are one of them, we have a downloadable letter, complete with instructions, that you can use to begin the process of applying for compensation.

It comes with no guarantees that it will work, but waiting for the DWP to act seems to guarantee that you will not get a penny of what you may be owed.

If you are not personally affected but know someone who may be, please send them a link to this article.

And if you regularly post in a forum or belong to a group that might include affected people, again please give them a link to this page.

Who is affected

Affected claimants are those who were transferred from incapacity benefit to ESA, a process that began as far back as 2011, and who later received a lump sum payment of arrears because the DWP had failed to award you income-based ESA as well as contribution-based ESA.

Many claimants who received such a lump sum will have missed out on passporting to other benefits, such as free prescriptions and warm home discount payments.

What you can do

If you think you were affected you can write to the office which administers, or used to administer, your claim for ESA to ask for compensation.

We have created a simple, downloadable letter which you can use as the basis for your own.

We have kept this letter as simple as possible, with instructions for you in italics. If you know the dates of any award of back-dated ESA or the amounts that you may have missed out on then by all means add them. But, at this point, the most important thing is to begin your claim.

If you don’t receive a reply, do as the letter says and make a formal complaint as well as contacting your MP’s office and asking them to pursue the matter

Download the letter in rich text format

Download the letter as a .pdf

You can read the PHSO’s original findings on the case of Ms U here

You can read the correspondence between the PHSO and the DWP here

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Cost of living crisis: good news if you receive tax credits

Rule change: tax credit claimants who can show an entitlement to tax credits will receive payments to help cope with the cost of living crisis.

The government has actually done something nice for a change.

It has changed the eligibility rules for the bonus payment to help pay energy bills, announced by Rishi Sunak when he was Chancellor earlier this year.

For tax credits claimants to get the first cost of living payment of £326, they must have been entitled, or later found to be entitled, to tax credits for any day in the period between April 26 and May 25, 2022, rather than having received a payment between those dates.

It means claimants need not have been actually receiving tax credits during that qualifying period. They could also have been eligible for tax credits but had not yet had any money, or may later win an appeal that finds they would have been eligible during that timeframe.

The bad news is that the cost-of-living payments announced by Sunak have now been entirely swallowed up by the rise in the energy price cap that is expected in October, so households will still be worse-off.

Still, not enough help is better than no help at all, right?

At least, that seems to be the Tory government philosophy, as it is not even trying to find another solution until a new prime minister is sworn in on September 5.

Source: Cost of living: Huge DWP change to £326 payment means more people entitled to it

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Is Coffey’s plan to get 114,000 UC claimants into jobs a bid to break coming strikes?

Therese Coffey: is her latest attack on UC claimants an attempt to break forthcoming industrial disputes?

I spotted this on David Hencke’s Westminster Confidential site, which you really should be reading.

Let’s set the scene:

The Department of Work and Pensions is to tighten the rules significantly to force 114,000 existing Universal Credit claimants into work as job vacancies soar across Britain.

She is changing the rules so far more people will have to go on what is known as an intensive work search regime where they will be monitored continually by work coaches on how many jobs they have applied for and why they didn’t get them.

The [Social Security Advisory] committee approved the idea on February 4 but agreed to keep the decision secret until last week when it published the minutes of a meeting between DWP officials and the committee.

To make the change the government is using a regulation to uprate what is known as the Administrative Earnings Threshold – a device which sets the level of benefit and earnings dividing those who only receive ” a light touch” regime – ie occasional checks whether they are seeking work – from their local job centre and those put on intensive work search programmes. Those who refuse or don’t co-operate properly with face benefit cuts as a sanction.

It will move the level from £355 to £494 a month for a single claimant and from £567 to £782 a month for a couple. At present some 250,000 people covered by the intensive work search programme are in work – this will increase the number by 50 percent. The government justify it by saying the new level brings it into line with recent rises in the national minimum wage for those in work.

Some of us already knew the above. I’ve reported it already.

But here’s the really nasty part:

Questioned about the current job vacancies level encouraging this move officials said: “the vacancies position the labour market is considered by some to be hot which could be driving inflation.”

In other words by getting more of the unemployed into work, employers would have a bigger pool of labour and would not have to offer higher wages or even compensate people for the rising cost of living.

There may now be an even more compelling reason as Therese Coffey wants this to be law from September 26, since the government plans to use agency workers to break the coming strike wave. What would suit ministers would be if the unemployed could be drafted in as agency workers leading to confrontation with striking workers on trains, buses, schools, the NHS, and the post office with shouts of ” scab” and bringing the police in to make mass arrests of strikers.

How vindictive. How very Tory.

Source: Coffey sneaks through tough plan to push 114,000 Universal Credit claimants into jobs while Parliament is in recess | Westminster Confidential

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DWP ignores legal ruling to deny compensation to 118,000 benefit claimants

The Department for Work and Pensions has unilaterally decided to ignore a ruling by the Parliamentary Ombudsman that it should pay compensation to 118,000 people who suffered maladministration at its hands.

The decision sets a deeply worrying precedent as it could lead to other people suffering maladministration receiving no rectification or compensation.

Here are the details in a handy YouTube video:

And journalist David Hencke, on his Westminster Confidential site, had this to say:

Since seeing this I have contacted Sir Stephen Timms, Labour chair of the Commons Works and Pensions Committee, to see if, as they promised the Ombudsman, the DWP had alerted him to the decision. Initially he said he could not recall getting this and promised to investigate what has happened.

There is another big issue. This could impact on the Waspi campaign and the all party state pension inequality group of MPs to get compensation for women through a report from the Ombudsman. If after the Ombudsman says compensation is due the DWP follows this practice for the 3.8 million – six people will get compensation and the remaining 3.6 million still alive will have to write individual letters outlining their case to the ministry for any money due which will take even more time to resolve. You have been warned.

Read the full story here: DWP ignores the Parliamentary Ombudsman and refuses to compensate 118,000 disabled people hit by benefit maladministration | Westminster Confidential

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The UK’s food bank shame will not be solved by Tories like Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson (right) with his leader Boris Johnson: no wonder Anderson thinks he can get away with a Big Lie when his boss is the biggest liar of them all.

This MP is a disgrace to his Ashfield constituency.

He stood up in the House of Commons and admitted that his local food bank won’t give out desperately-needed parcels to people unless they sign up to take a course in budgeting and cooking skills – but you’ll notice he never said anything about whether such courses were effective in reducing demand.

Mr Anderson invited MPs to visit a food bank in his Nottinghamshire constituency where he said people “have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course” if they receive parcels.

“We show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget,” he added. “We can make a meal for about 30p a day and this is cooking from scratch.”

“There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country. We’ve got generation after generation who can not cook properly… they can not budget.”

Here’s video of what he said, along with some of the more well-informed comments by opposition MPs:

As usual, though, the best commentary on this came from the food writer and blogger Jack Monroe, who slated Anderson’s comment in an LBC interview:

“It’s not a lack of skills or knowledge that is causing people to struggle in food poverty in this country…it’s the lack of resources, it’s the lack of finances.

“It’s not that people don’t know what to do with a bag of pasta, it’s that they don’t have the 29p to buy it in the first place.

“Helping somebody conditional on them saying ‘you know what, I’m a terrible kind of poor person, this is all my own fault, please teach me how to be better at being poor’, is disgusting, actually.

“In his own constituency one in three live in poverty…I don’t think he’s the one to be touting the solution.”

Jack, who is a genuine national treasure, went further on the Cooking on a Bootstrap website, reminding us all of the main reasons people can’t afford food any more – and the fatal results of these Conservative Party policies:

If the ‘let them eat 30p meals’ brigade were really concerned for the welfare of people suffering, and I mean suffering, under the worst cost of living crisis this country has known for decades, they would take heed from the thousands of stories of people who have died at the hands of the callous DWP machine, and the people who enthusiastically grease its sharp and unforgiving cogs.

Stephanie Bottrill, a mother of three who was so concerned about the impact that the bedroom tax would have on her family, that she walked out in front of an articulated lorry.

Phillipa Day, whose overdose resulted in a coroners report stating that the flaws in her PIP assessment led to her death. A nine day inquest uncovered multiple failings by both the DWP and the private sector contractor Capita in the handling of her case. The coroner issued the DWP a PFD report – Prevention Of Future Deaths – which was supposed to force them to make significant changes to the system in order to prevent this entirely needless tragedy from ever happening again. Did they implement the recommended changes? Of course not. Not then, and not after multiple more coroners reports and PFDs from multiple subsequent deaths in similar circumstances.

Jodey Whiting took her own life after her benefits were stopped. Her family received a letter endorsing the DWPs actions, incorrectly stating that Jodey was fit to work, and mailed it to them as their daughter lay in a mortuary, awaiting her untimely and again, utterly preventable, burial. Following her death, and with his life thrown into utter turmoil at the loss of his mother, her 19 year old son Cory also killed himself.

I have thousands of these stories, each and every one a heartbreakingly familiar narrative: a vulnerable person denied absolutely vital assistance, unable to bear the pain of a day to day life scrabbling at the periphery of insecurity and just-about-survival, choosing a devastatingly permanent ending to a story that they didn’t get the luxury of choosing their own adventure in. God, they didn’t even get the luxury of choosing their own living accommodation, the colour of their front doors, or the meagre combination of basic store cupboard staples that made up their dinners.

What kind of world do we live in, where these horrific and very real examples of destitution and desperation are not a clarion call for an immediate overhaul of a barbaric and repeatedly proven fatal ideology?

And it begs the point, that with several hundred thousand pounds of full time staff at their disposal to do the everyday grunt work, you’d think that MPs would use a fraction of that generous budget to actually do some research in their chosen field.

Yes indeed. Lee Anderson’s most recent expenses claim alone came to £220,000. That will have included the cost of employing his support staff, so the question goes straight to the point.

The painful reality is that when most basic of human needs costs more than the meagre payments that the recipients are forced to subsist on, cheap pasta and canned beans aren’t going to make a jot of difference unless you’re willing to stuff them up your jumper and make a run for it. Those that claim to be the party of clever economics and fiscal responsibility would do well to remember this simple truth: the square root of fuck all is always going to be absolutely fuck all, no matter how creatively you’re told to to dice it.

I make no apology for the strong language; sometimes people need to be told the facts in the hardest possible terms, just so they’ll sink in.

You’ll hear it again in the following video rant from another great social media icon, Cornish Damo:

Sadly, This Writer doubts that any amount of factual argument will persuade people like Anderson to change their tune, because they believe in the tactic the Tories stole (back) from the Nazi propagandist Goebbels: The Big Lie.

Anderson thinks if he keeps repeating, often enough, the lie that poverty is entirely the fault of people who are poor, and not of those who have deprived them of decent, affordable food, housing, energy, water and all the other necessities of life, we will all eventually believe that lie.

It’s up to you to prove him wrong.

ADDITIONAL: This could be very embarrassing for Mr Anderson:

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Why has EHRC broken promise to investigate DWP’s role in deaths of benefit claimants?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has u-turned on a promise to investigate the role played by the Department for Work and Pensions in the deaths of vulnerable benefit claimants, it’s being reported.

Instead the EHRC are now asking the DWP to create new policies in relation to claimants with mental health issues and learning difficulties. Apparently the commission is using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse.

This Site forced the DWP to publish figures showing that thousands of people had died of unexplained causes after being thrown off benefits by that government department and I am deeply concerned by this failure to scrutinise whether the government caused these deaths.

And how many more people have died since I exposed those deaths seven years ago?

I shall be writing to the EHRC today, seeking a meaningful explanation for this u-turn.

UPDATE: Here’s what I have written to the EHRC:

“I was the writer who forced the DWP to admit that thousands of people have died after being thrown off benefits – for no established reason. I am deeply concerned that the EHRC has decided not to investigate the DWP’s role in the deaths of claimants and is choosing only to seek an agreement to better protect claimants – similar to other undertakings that the DWP has ignored in the past, causing more deaths. The DWP will never respect the human rights, or indeed the lives, of claimants unless it is forced to do so. I am writing to you to seek an explanation for your decision that I can publish to my readers. How will you defend this indefensible decision?”

Let’s see what response – if any – I receive.

Source: EHRC Breaks Promise To Investigate DWP Role In Deaths – The poor side of life

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Guaranteed Minimum Pensions holders set to lose thousands due to DWP disdain

The Tory government has shafted pensioners – again.

Around 11 million people were contracted out of the State Earnings-Related Pensions Scheme by their employer, on condition that they would receive an index-linked guaranteed minimum pension.

This arrangement, for anyone in the private sector, was scrapped when the new state pension was introduced in 2016 – but remains in place for public sector workers.

The decision to scrap it was never mentioned in Parliament or in any Pensions legislation.

Women are the most seriously affected. Everybody involved is losing cash ranging from a few pounds a week to tens of thousands over the lifetime of their pension.

That’s the historical situation.

Now, after two people won £1,250 each in compensation after complaining to the Ombudsman, the government has decided not to ensure that everybody affected – who might also deserve payment – is told.

The Ombudsman recommended action “to ensure that affected individuals receive appropriate communication from the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] about their state pensions”.

But in response, all the DWP has done is publish a factsheet on the GOV.UK website. It has not informed anybody who is affected by the changes that the factsheet exists, or even put out a press release.

You can read the factsheet here – and by publishing the link, This Site has done more to inform those affected than the UK government.

Taking this into account, it should be no surprise that only 6,922 people have read the factsheet and only four people (according to DWP Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield) have made inquiries about it.

None received any compensation because Schofield said they were not eligible.

So, of a possible 11 million people affected by the GMP change, the DWP’s tailor-made strategy (in response to an Ombudsman’s recommendation, remember) has reached nobody.

As intended?

Read a deeper analysis of the implications here: Rip off: DWP to take no further action to compensate millions who lost thousands of pounds of extra pensions | Westminster Confidential

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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More than 1,300 DWP staff to lose jobs: will the service to claimants get EVEN WORSE?

Employment in the UK is a “remarkable success” says Raab – as his government makes 1,300 DWP jobs redundant in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

Yes, some of the most hated civil servants in the UK are likely to lose their jobs in a back-office shake-up of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Offices are being closed across the country, meaning 12,000 DWP employees will be moved to different sites. A further 1,300 people will not be moved as there are no suitable sites near them; they will lose their jobs.

But these jobs are said to be going from offices in areas of high economic deprivation, making a mockery of the Tory government’s “levelling-up” agenda.

The PCS union said the offices closing with no alternative site being offered to staff are in: Aberdeen, Barrow in Furness, Bishop Auckland, Blackburn, Bury St Edmunds, Chippenham, Exeter, Gravesend, Kirkcaldy, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Southampton, and Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent.

Labour’s shadow secretary for work and pensions, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “In closing DWP offices and cutting jobs in areas including Stoke, Burnley, Bishop Auckland, Doncaster, Southampton and Kirkcaldy, Therese Coffey has exposed the Tories’ rhetoric on levelling up to be utterly hollow.

“Ministers are today cutting quality public sector jobs from communities who need them in the middle of a devastating cost of living crisis.”

The decision seems to be motivated by a calculation that the DWP has more real estate than it needs – so this is about selling off land for money, Weren’t we all led to believe the government is making cash hand-over-fist due to increased fuel (and other) prices?

In all, 13 processing sites are set to close by June 2023, but more job losses are feared over the closure and relocation of 29 other sites.

Announcing the closures on March 17, Work and Pensions minister David Rutley said no “front-of-house Jobcentre Plus” services would be affected because “the services we are talking about are primarily telephony and digital”.

Reading between the lines, this suggests that it will take even longer than the hours it already does to contact the DWP about a claim by phone or online,

And the PCS union’s Mark Serwotka seems to be implying that this is the payoff for DWP staff who were taken on to handle the extra work caused by the Covid-19 lockdowns.

With the government winding down its Covid restrictions – despite a new surge in infections, hospitalisations and deaths – these “work units” (as the Tories describe people like you and me and especially benefit claimants) are now surplus to requirements.

“The government was quick to clap civil servants at the start of the pandemic – they’re even quicker to scrap them now they’ve declared the pandemic over.

“Our members have worked tirelessly behind the scenes, keeping the country running, paying out benefits to almost two-and-a-half million families, helping them to put food on their table and keep a roof over their head.

“But now, as food and fuel prices rise faster than ever, they’re being abandoned by the government and left to fend for themselves.”

I fear this is the truth of the Tory DWP slim-down: former employees transformed into claimants in the most deprived areas, at the worst possible time, receiving an inferior service from the organisation they used to represent,

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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