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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

DWP and mushroom management

Those of us who have experienced mushroom management will know that it consists of being kept in the dark, while having manure shovelled over us. The Department of Work and Pensions however, prefer to utilise these methods when dealing with the claimants they have been created to help.

The Independent reports that Ministers have been accused of keeping “alarming” findings about their flagship universal credit scheme under wraps for a year and a half. MPs say it was “deeply irresponsible” to delay the release of a report, which suggests nearly half of claimants were not aware their tax credits would stop when they claimed universal credit, and 56 per cent felt they received too little information from HMRC.

Starving MPs of the information they need for a crucial report into how the system can be improved is bad enough, but the DWP are equally culpable in the way they treat claimants, relying on ignorance and misinformation to keep costs down.

The paper says that the Department for Work and Pensions has repeatedly argued that universal credit is more generous than the old benefit system and provides a “safety net” for those who need it. The report reveals, however, that more than a third were experiencing financial difficulties – of which six in 10 said their difficulties started after they began claiming universal credit. It also found that there was a “lack of awareness and a perceived lack of clear information about the new benefit and the migration process”:

Garry Lemon, director of research and policy at the Trussell Trust, said the fact that the research has not resulted in significant changes to the support provided to people moving onto universal credit was “not only deeply concerning, but deeply irresponsible”.

He added: ”Our benefits system was created to anchor us all from being pushed into poverty, but for too many people moving on to the new service, universal credit has pushed them to a food bank.”

Jess Leigh, policy and campaigns manager at disability equality charity Scope, said: “At a time when government needs to restore trust in the system, sitting on a report for 18 months is counterproductive.

“This report is further evidence that universal credit isn’t working for disabled people. As universal credit becomes a reality for millions of disabled people, many face losing vital welfare support and falling off a financial cliff edge.

“It is critical that the upcoming trial of managed migration takes into account all research in a thorough, timely and transparent way.”

The paper adds that the latest figures show that the DWP is expected to spend close to £1bn on administrative errors in the payment of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to disabled people – far more than initially expected.

They say that the department was forced to admit that even after new guidance had been issued to staff in 2015 in an attempt to correct the problem – which saw around 180,000 people deprived of benefits they were legally entitled to – 30,000 extra cases had been identified where it was possible the same error resulting in underpayment had been made.

This is unacceptable. Ministers need to get to grips with this problem urgently.
Is this the consequence of taking 2 billion out of the UC plan when Cameron took over? The truth hidden to stop Tory embarrassment whilst leading people to stress and worry and foodbanks whilst claiming they did not know their was something wrong.
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