David Cameron cannot allow the chaos at the DWP to continue

Today we will urge the government to come clean about the impact of delays, chaos and failing programmes at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Today we will urge the government to come clean about the impact of delays, chaos and failing programmes at the Department for Work and Pensions

In February a constituent came to my surgery after her husband had suffered a stroke. She had given up work to look after him, they were getting behind on mortgage payments and couldn’t afford to get by.

They had tried to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) but were forced to wait months for an ATOS assessment.

We referred the couple to a local food bank and pressed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to act quickly. But tragically her husband died in March without ever having had his ATOS appointment.

His wife is now ill and struggling to cope following her bereavement. She too has tried to claim Employment Support Allowance, but has come up against appalling delays and is still waiting for a decision about her claim.

Sadly there are thousands of people across the country who have done the right thing but are being failed when they need help the most because of the government’s chaos, delays and incompetence.

And Iain Duncan Smith’s failure to deliver an effective benefits system not only affects the lives of those like my constituent who needs, it undermines the prospect of a fair and affordable system for everyone because public money is wasted on crisis management and failing IT projects, rather than on supporting those who really need it. ‬

That’s why Labour will demand Iain Duncan Smith gets a grip of his failng department in a debate we have called in parliament today.‬ We are urging the government to take three simple steps to improve its handling of the benefit system.

‬First, we want the government to tell people like my constituent just how long they should expect to wait for a disability benefit assessment and to set a time limit to stop the unacceptable delays.

The government’s chaotic handling of disability benefits has caused huge distress for thousands of people and the cost of clearing up the mess threatens to cost taxpayers millions. Over 700,000 people are stuck in the backlog waiting for decisions about Work Capability Assessments which they need to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

And delays aren’t confined to Employment Support Allowance with thousands of people stuck in an enormous backlog for Personal Independence Payment assessments. This is causing huge uncertainty, stress and hardship for thousands of disabled people waiting for decisions on new claims.

And tragically, people have died waiting for assessments. At the current rate it will take over 40 years to clear the huge assessment backlog which ministers have allowed to build up.

So today Labour will urge the government to guarantee a time that disabled people will receive an assessment for PIP rather than leaving people waiting for month after month for a decision.

Second, the government must urgently get a grip on its chaotic Universal Credit programme, which is currently wasting millions of public money on failed IT. Chaos within the £12.8 billion programme has brought delivery of Universal Credit shuddering to a halt. Iain Duncan Smith promised one million people would be claiming Universal Credit by April 2014, but the latest figures show less than 6,000 people are receiving this new benefit.

David Cameron once said that sunlight ‘is the best disinfectant’, but this doesn’t seem to apply to the DWP. For months ministers have refused to publish important documents which will reveal problems with Universal Credit.

Last week an upper tribunal judge refused consent for the government to appeal a previous ruling that the government should comply with a freedom of information request to publish the risk register and other documentation relating to the delivery of Universal Credit.

If the government continues to refuse to be open and transparent about the failings which have left Universal Credit in crisis the problems will only get worse. That’s why we’re calling on the government to publish the risk register, and to call in the National Audit Office to conduct a full review of the programme, and help work out just what is going wrong.

Third, we’re calling for the government to be clear about just how much delays and waste at the DWP are costing, and how this will affect the government’s cap on spending. Since 2010 David Cameron’s government has spent £13 billion more than planned on social security because of their failure to deal with the causes of rising benefit bills from low pay to lack of housing.

In March 2014 the Office for Budget Responsibility in March 2014 found projected spending on Employment and Support Allowance alone had risen by £800 million since December and earlier this month the BBC reported the government was in danger of breaching it’s welfare cap because of these rising costs.

The cost of the government’s failure to control social security costs will fall on taxpayers. We believe it’s completely unacceptable that people who have worked hard and have paid in are threatened with a huge bill to pay for the government’s chaotic and incompetent handling of social security. Ministers have refused to reveal how rising costs will affect their spending plans.

Today we will urge the government to come clean with the public about the impact of their delays, chaos and failing programmes on the social security budget.

David Cameron cannot allow the chaos, delays and waste within the DWP to continue. The huge backlog of disability assessments, spiralling delays to Universal Credit and threats to the social security budget are causing huge distress and hardship for thousands of people and threaten to add hundreds of millions to the welfare budget.

The government must act now to end the appalling indignity which so many vulnerable people are experiencing when they most need our support.

Rachel Reeves MP is shadow secretary of state for work and pensions

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43 Responses to “David Cameron cannot allow the chaos at the DWP to continue”

  1. Kryten2k35

    This Tory lot just need evicting from Office as soon as possible. I think it’s quite clear that the whole department is being obtuse with people on purpose to delay claims and deny people money they’re entitled to. There is no other explanation for it.

    There’s no justification for it. For example. If you notify the DWP about a change in circumstance that means you’re entitled to less money. They stop your payments for up to 6 weeks, then continue, and refuse to back pay (or back pay an amount not equal to what you were entitled to over the period). The same is also said if you’re entitled to more money, you inform, them, they stop your payment, and then restart again, less than the actual entitlement, and refuse to back pay properly. Or perhaps you inform them about a change in circumstance (for instance, a new born arrival, which means you are entitled to more) and they reevaluate you, without the newborn? Do you think they own up to this mistake and correctly back pay you the amount from when you started the claim? Nope. Even though it’s their mistake they stick to this 4-6 weeks back pay policy, despite that their bungling made it 16 weeks. They owe you 16 weeks, they pay you 4 weeks.

    This simply encourages people to be dishonest. Why mess around with your benefits payments if it means you’re going to be messed around and enter into arrears with everything you need to payout (especially in the case of housing benefit).

    There is no other explanation for this other than Tory viciousness.

  2. LB

    Sadly there are thousands of people across the country who have done the right thing


    And what’s the right thing?

    Lets see. They paid you and others tens, hundreds of thousands of pounds of NI. After all, people like you told them, “Cradle to the grave” in exchange for their NI.

    Then like any good socialist, you looked at the money and said, why don’t we spend it now, and you did. Trillions of it.

    Then when people like this need their money back, you and the Tories tell them to bugger off. After all you’ve spent the money, there is none. Just a 9 trillion debt.

    The mess is caused by people like you. You created it and now you want to turn around and say, let us fix it. It’s the nasty Tories, or migrants, or ….

    Now if the people mentioned had been allowed to save their NI, invest it, then by and large they wouldn’t have a problem. All you need is a proper safety net for support for those whose money has run out.

    For Kryten.,

    There’s a very simple explanation. There is no money. There’s a 9 trillion debt and no capital. That’s the welfare state.

    They spent all the contributions on wars, 5 a day coordinators, trillions on fighting poverty all to no avail.

  3. Ruby

    The Conservatives are not fit to govern this country. As for Labour, they’re not as bad but they’re also terrible. Britain is in political crisis where no real political power is able to skilfully manage the country’s economy. All the politicians on the scene from every party are good at criticism and bad at solutions.

  4. jakerleen

    My husband has severe bipolar and was moved from DLA to PIP as his award was up 22/5/14. He only had his medical assessment last week after 2 previous cancellations, which left him suicidal. Now we’re in for the long decision wait. The letter for transfer started 8/6/14 telling us to contact within 14 days or lose the DLA he was awarded until May. Yet we’re waiting forever with him feeling more like killing himself as time goes on. They agree I sent in loads of evidence from his GP and psychiatrist, yet he’s still going through hell. I suppose if they wait long enough and he does end it all “that’s another one off the books” is how they look at it.

    Im interested in what will happen to indefinite awards of DLA after 2015? If Labour are in power will they leave them alone? Those people went through hell to be indefinite so it would be better to give them some peace rather than the turmoil my family are enduring at present.

  5. Guest

    Yes, because you’ll murder all the workers, the assets. That is how you’ll MAKE a situation with no assets, genocide. Your plan, proudly displayed, Boris!

    Keep talking about the negative cash people could have saved after they’d paid for unemployment insurance, negative savings, your “plan”. You’re a common garden scammer.

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