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Benefits: Administrative Errors

Volume 670: debated on Monday 27 January 2020

11. What assessment she has made of trends in the level of administrative errors made in the processing of applications during the roll-out of (a) universal credit and (b) personal independence payment in Hartlepool constituency. (900403)

Each UC or PIP application is judged on its own merit, taking into account the information provided by the claimant, and robust quality assurance processes are in place to reduce administrative errors.

My constituency was a pilot and trial area for UC, and my office is still receiving complaints about simple administrative errors that have resulted in constituents losing money. When will the Department get its act together on this?

Last year, administrative errors in UC fell from 2.3% to 2.1% in respect of wrong payments. We recognise that this is still a relatively new system, and we will continue to work with claimants, charities and stakeholders to make sure that UC can continue to offer personalised, tailored support to unlock all people’s potential.

The day after the general election, the Government had the audacity to sneak out the fact that more than 650,000 disabled people lost out financially when transferring from the disability living allowance to PIP, which is 46% of all former DLA complaints. This should not be swept under the carpet, so will the Secretary of State explain why the Government have cut support for more than half a million disabled people?

The reality is that under PIP 32% of claimants now receive the highest rate of support compared with just 15% under the legacy system—that is worth £15.05 per week—and there are now 257,228 more people benefiting from PIP than did so under the legacy system.

UC smooths the transition into work and it smooths progression in work. Since it became the default benefit for newly unemployed people, we have had month after month after month of positive employment news. Is it not bizarre that Opposition Members want to scrap that system and return to the Labour system that saw millions of people either trapped in the 16-hour economy or shut out of work altogether?

I thank my right hon. Friend for what he says, and it is absolutely clear to someone who visits a jobcentre anywhere in the country: for the first time, work coaches feel empowered to offer personalised, tailored support, working with external agencies to provide as much opportunity as possible. We must remember that under the legacy benefits £2.4 billion per year went unclaimed because the system was too complex for some of the most vulnerable people in society. That was not acceptable.

Some 45% of disabled claimants in my constituency have, as was mentioned in a previous question, lost out when they have moved from DLA to PIP. I ask the Government: has a target been given to assessment centres to take money off the disabled?

I can confirm that there is absolutely no target, and on PIP, DLA and attendance allowance combined we are now spending an £6 billion more than we did in 2010 and rightly so.