Earlier this year, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) identified 22,500 Housing Benefit claimants affected by the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) underpayment and Incapacity Benefit (IB) reassessment corrective exercise. Local authorities began checking if arrears were due for those claimants between 2011 and 2019.
In August, the DWP said that since the initial exercise was completed in March, further cases had been identified that have subsequently had their Income Related ESA award reassessed. However, earlier this week, Welsh MP Ben Lake, asked whether the DWP has now contacted every person eligible for compensation.
DWP Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Claire Coutinho MP, responded: “As part of the IB to ESA reassessment LEAP exercise the Department reviewed around 600,000 cases and made 118,000 arrears payments amounting to over £600m.”
Ms Coutinho continued: “Special payments for maladministration are made in line with the Department’s Special Payments policy.
“Where an individual feels they may be eligible for a Special Payment, they can contact the Department and set out their reasons. All requests received will be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
DWP has a scheme which offers ‘Special Payments’ to people who have been affected by ‘maladministration’ - sometimes also referred to as ‘official error’.
The aim is to put people back into the financial position they would have been in had the error not happened.
Incapacity Benefit Reassessment corrective exercise
In March 2022, the DWP began migrating Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disability Allowance, Income Support cases to ESA from 2011 onwards.
Entitlement to ESA Income Related was not initially considered if Income Support was not in payment at the point of migration, the DWP explained at the time.
This led to the DWP Incapacity Benefit Reassessment LEAP exercise.
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