It’s taken a writer, who’s also a Universal Credit claimant, to spot a damning set of figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This begs the question: where on earth is the mainstream media?
The DWP: fighting back
Alex Tiffin is a journalist who runs the Universal Credit Sufferer website. He’s becoming well known on social media for his writing and commentary on the DWP. Now he’s spotted a set of figures about Universal Credit. Ones that Tiffin said a DWP minister made as a “late night release”. Or, as he put it in another way, the DWP was “using Brexit to bury bad news”:
NEW – Latest data shows 16% of new #UniversalCredit claims paid late.
In another late night release on the parliament website, the government confirms that nearly 1 in 5 new claims aren't paid on time.
Using Brexit to bury bad news is becoming traditionhttps://t.co/kTp0rrYegJ
— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) January 22, 2019
Tiffin was reporting that on 21 January, parliamentary under-secretary for the DWP Baroness Buscombe revealed late payment figures for Universal Credit. She said that the DWP fails to pay 16% of new claimants in full and on time. For all claimants (including existing ones) the figure was 6%.
Buscombe tried to put the blame for late payments onto claimants. She said:
In many cases where full payment is not made on time, it is due to unresolved issues such as: claimants not accepting their Claimant Commitment or passing identity checks, satisfying the Habitual Residency Test, or having outstanding verification issues, such as housing costs and self-employed earnings.
But as Tiffin noted:
On the point of claimants failing identity checks. It has been raised numerous times that the online identity checks required by Universal Credit simply don’t work.
Buscombe’s figures aren’t new. The DWP originally released them in November 2018. Of course, it spun the stats as it paying 94% of claimants on time. But what Tiffin rightly highlighted with Buscombe’s response is the DWP’s attitude that it’s the claimant’s fault when payments are late. As he also points out:
What the Peer’s answer doesn’t address, is why 6% of existing claims are being paid late. There is no excuse for claimants who have an active claim, to not be getting their payment on time.
To be fair to the DWP, late payment figures have improved over time. But for the claimants affected by late payments, this is probably of little comfort.
This person quite rightly pointed out that the DWP’s standard waiting time for making payments isn’t exactly prompt either:
Considering that 5-6 weeks wait is considered on time… that is truly appalling!
— Saint Non 💖🌹 JC 4 PM 🌹 (@StNon_JC4PM2019) January 22, 2019
Also, The Canary struggled to find any media reports about the DWP’s late payment figures when the DWP first published them in November 2018. There certainly weren’t reports after Buscombe’s statement. So, not only are the figures a damning indictment of the DWP’s shambolic handling of Universal Credit, Tiffin’s report also speaks volumes about our media.
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