The Work and Pensions Committee has announced that it is holding an inquiry into the timeliness and accuracy of benefit delivery by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The Committee is seeking evidence of problems that occur when benefits are underpaid or delayed, leaving some people resorting to food banks or unable to pay their bills while waiting for their claims to be processed.
The Committee is inviting written evidence on:
The extent to which the DWP delivers welfare benefit and Universal Credit payments correctly and promptly
The impact of errors and delays and how such effects can be alleviated
How the department’s performance in this area might be monitored and improved.
Frank Field, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: "My own Hunger Inquiry found that the Department could straight away cut by a third the numbers of people having to rely on food banks, if it could ensure all legitimate benefit claims were paid promptly and correctly. It has made some progress in speeding up the delivery of new claims, but the five or six week wait for a first payment under Universal Credit could turn out to be a nightmare for some claimants. Even under the existing system there are too many mind-blowing instances in which people on their uppers are left with little or even no money for weeks on end. We will seek, therefore, to come up with a package of reforms which helps the Department build on its early progress towards a more effective system."
New Committee Member, Mhairi Black MP, said: "Local welfare rights officers have highlighted to me the issues they face with the speed of cases being processed by the department. They are particularly concerned when no priority is given to clients who they have identified as vulnerable, especially when all of the information required by the DWP has been supplied. Vulnerable people are often left in a position where they have no money to heat their homes or feed themselves for several days or weeks. It is therefore, no surprise to them that Paisley has the third busiest food bank in Scotland.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) MP, who is also the youngest member of the House, also said that there were also serious concerns about the current impact of procedures for people in receipt of Housing Benefit whose circumstances have changed. There are also anticipated problems with housing costs being paid directly to claimants in receipt of Universal Credit rather than direct to the landlord.
She concluded by saying: “I welcome the opportunity to explore these and many other issues that have been raised with me through the inquiry."
The deadline for submissions is Friday 4 September 2015.
Source: UK Parliament website
Date of publication: 23 July 2015