Thousands of Britons could be due compensation from DWP after error – are you eligible?
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More than 100,000 people with disabilities and health conditions had their benefits cut when moving to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). One woman was left with £80 a week less to live on, after the DWP didn’t take into account her income. Now the ombudsman has demanded that the DWP offers these people compensation.
Earlier this week, the DWP said it was looking into whether Britons claiming Personal Independence Payments (PIP) could be owed up to £14,000 due to a Supreme Court ruling in 2016.
Now, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) is claiming that although the DWP has since dished out back pay to the tune of £613million to those affected by the ESA error – people should have been compensated on top.
The ombudsman said mistakes like these can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, as it did with one woman known as Ms U.
The ombudsman said that the 62-year-old missed out on vital support because of the DWP error and was thrown into “extreme financial and personal hardship”.
Her payments were wrongly cut by around £80 a week for five years when she was transferred onto ESA in 2012.
Ms U’s payments were worked out from her national insurance contributions, but she should also have received payments based on her income.
Although she was eventually given £19,832.55 in back pay by the DWP, it left her unable to afford to heat her home and buy food for five years.
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It’s led the ombudsman to demand that the DWP apologises and pays Ms U £7,500 in compensation on top of the back pay.
Ombudsman spokesman Rob Behrens said: “It is human to make mistakes but not acting to right wrongs is a matter of policy choice.
“In this case, that choice has been made by the very organisation that is responsible for supporting those most in need.
“We don’t know how many more Ms Us there are out there.”
Mr Behrens added: “That is why I urge the DWP to allow people affected to claim for compensation in recognition of its error and the potentially devastating impact it has had on people’s lives.”
IIn response a DWP spokesperson said: “Our priority is that all people get the financial support to which they are entitled and we have identified those affected by this issue, making 118,000 benefit arrears payments in full.
“We have repaid Mrs U her benefit arrears in full.
“We will be issuing an apology and making an additional special payment as recommended by the Public Health Service Ombudsman.”
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Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was first introduced in 2008.
From March 2011, the DWP began reassessing people on incapacity benefits for eligibility for ESA, which saw some claimants underpaid.
The DWP has contacted everyone it has details for to resolve the problem and has paid out £613million in backpay.
Others who think they may have been underpaid should contact the DWP on 0800 169 0310.
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