Employment and Support Allowance: Underpayments

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 25th February 2019.

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Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society) 3:41 pm, 25th February 2019

We are extremely disappointed that the Minister had to be forced to come to the House by an urgent question, rather than doing what she should have done and made this announcement via an oral statement. On Thursday, we discovered that the DWP had identified nearly double the number of cases to be re-examined and that the errors we believed to have ended in 2014 actually continued through to 2015. Those ad hoc discoveries are extremely concerning and beg the question: what other errors has the DWP missed?

What investigations is the Department doing to ensure that no other payment is affected in such a way? The most alarming aspect of this entire scandal is that 20,000 people whose claims were due to be reviewed have since died. Are the Government undertaking any investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding those deaths and whether this underpayment in any way contributed to or exacerbated those circumstances? Finally, we know that the Department is putting more resources into investigating this, but will the Minister confirm that that is new money and is not coming out of existing DWP budgets?