Disability Rights UK blog post, 8 Aug 2106: DWP agrees to set target for benefit underpayments
The Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Frank Field MP, has welcomed the DWP’s change of heart on a target for benefit underpayments.
In its December 2015 report on benefit delivery, the Committee recommended that the DWP should introduce a target to reduce underpayments to less than 0.5% per cent of expenditure by the end of this Parliament.
However, in its response to the report the Government rejected this recommendation.
But in a letter to Mr Field last week, the DWP’s Permanent Secretary Robert Devereux said:
“While the Department rejected these recommendations in the past, I have subsequently reflected on this and concluded that we can and should introduce a global target for underpayments, to complement existing operational targets.”
He added that he had asked relevant teams in DWP to produce a recommendation for the level of such a target with the aim to have this completed by the end of September 2016.
Welcoming the DWP’s change of mind, Frank Field said:
“Benefit underpayments can cause unnecessary hardship. We have been concerned that they have been neglected by the Department and have been calling for a target. We therefore welcome this U-turn. We will monitor progress closely.”
The National Audit Office found that of £1.8billion was underpaid by the DWP last year.
The estimated 2015/16 figure equates to 1% of all benefit spending and is up from £1.4billion in the previous year.