Stephanie Peacock, Member of Parliament for Barnsley East, has forced the Government to admit it doesn’t know how many people in Barnsley and South Yorkshire have been affected by a benefits calculation error that has seen thousands of people underpaid.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently conceded a mistake had been made with Employment and Support Allowance payments – the benefit paid to those who are ill or disabled and require either financial support or tailored personalised help to work.
It’s estimated the error has seen 180,000 people across the UK underpaid by around £1.5bn since 2011.
However, following questions from the Barnsley East MP on the numbers of eligible claimants in Barnsley and South Yorkshire that were underpaid, the value of these underpayments, and how many have subsequently been refunded a back-dated payment, the Government admitted it did not know these figures.
Following the years of errors, the Government pledged to offer backdated payments to those affected by the end of 2019, but have subsequently stated around 75,000 of those who have missed out may have to wait until 2020.
It follows an attempt by the Government to only offer backdated payments from 2014.
Commenting on the revelations admitted by Government in response a number of her Parliamentary Questions to the now former Secretary of State for the DWP Esther McVey, Stephanie (pictured) commented:
“It’s unacceptable that through no fault of their own thousands of people across the country have been short-changed and not provided with the vital funds they’re entitled because of an error by this Government.
“Yet following my questions, the Government went further and admitted they don’t even know how many people here in Barnsley and the wider South Yorkshire area have been underpaid, or how much they’ve been underpaid by.
“These welfare benefits are essential for so many disadvantaged people to get on in life, yet this Government have denied them the help they’re entitled to. It’s vital vulnerable people here in our community are properly compensated and given what they’re owed.”