Tens of thousands of severely disabled and ill claimants are set to receive backdated payments of up to £20,000 after being wrongly underpaid for years by social security officials, the government spending watchdog has revealed.
An estimated 70,000 claimants were underpaid about £340m between 2011 and 2014 after being transferred from older benefits on to employment and support allowance (ESA) during a government overhaul of incapacity benefits, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.
The error occurred when officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to follow their own legal guidelines governing the transfer process, meaning that in many cases they failed to properly check claimants’ full entitlements.
Meg Hillier, the chair of the Commons public accounts committee, said: “The government’s shoddy administration of ESA has resulted in vulnerable people being deprived of thousands of pounds they were legally entitled to. The NAO’s report shows the DWP was…
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