True scale of benefits blunder exposed as it takes 400 government staff up to a YEAR to fix

The full scale of a benefits blunder was exposed today as Tory ministers admitted it will take 400 staff a year to fix.`

Officials are trying to reverse a blunder that underpaid sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to up to 75,000 people.

Giving an update to MPs today, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said On 14 December 2017 my predecessor provided a statement to the House on how the Department will be undertaking work to correct underpayments that may have occurred as a result of how a proportion of incapacity benefit claims were transitioned to employment and support allowance between 2011 and 2014. I wanted to take this opportunity to update the House on how this work is progressing.

My Department will be reviewing close to 300,000 cases, of which just under a quarter have been underpaid. We have begun contacting individuals and making payments. We are actively recruiting staff and have scaled up the team undertaking the work from 10 to 50 in December last year, which will grow further to 400 from April, allowing us to deal with the situation at pace.

“[This] will grow further to 400 from April, allowing us to deal with the situation at pace.”

She added: “I am committed to ensuring that all cases are reviewed and paid by April 2019.”

Ms McVey said priority will now been given to ESA claimants who are terminally ill.

Once people are contacted and “relevant information gathered” they can expect to receive back-dated payments within 12 weeks and will be given a freephone number to track their case.

But payments will only be backdated to 2014, not 2011, prompting an outcry.

Ms McVey said in a written statement: “We have been engaging with external organisations that often provide support and advice to our claimants, so that they too can be confident that we have a robust process in place, and can provide individual advice should they be contacted.”

The errors by the DWP will reportedly cost up to £500 million to put right.

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