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ESA underpayments

debrightstardebrightstar Posts: 4Member Listener
WAs shocked to hear on the news about underpayment premiums regarding esa I’m in the support group on esa and done a benefit checker but it just is confusing to understand can anyone help

Replies

  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 4,873Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @debrightstar,

    It sounds like ESA are in the process of directly contacting those affected, so if you are one of the people who has been underpaid, they should contact you. You could attempt to contact the DWP, but I imagine there will be a backlog of other callers enquiring about the same issue. 

    Does that answer your question? Let us know if we can be of any further assistance!
  • debrightstardebrightstar Posts: 4Member Listener
    Yes I eventually got thru there looking into my case and will contact me in due course they said 
  • alexwhitealexwhite Posts: 199Administrator, Helpline Scope community team
  • trixiewootrixiewoo Posts: 5Member Listener
    not paying contribution esa is still happening!! the gov web site states you can only get it if you are not in a uc area!! this is wrong. I was pushed onto uc and was not entitled to it eventually after several arguments and calls was put on to contribution esa. it was a bad time .Thousands of people must have been denied it because of this and just don't realise it  . I have told my MP and he is taking it further
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Posts: 4,800Member, Community champion Brian Blessed
    trixiewoo said:
    not paying contribution esa is still happening!! the gov web site states you can only get it if you are not in a uc area!! this is wrong. I was pushed onto uc and was not entitled to it eventually after several arguments and calls was put on to contribution esa. it was a bad time .Thousands of people must have been denied it because of this and just don't realise it  . I have told my MP and he is taking it further
    It's the other way around. This ESA underpayment that's been in the news recently is about those that transferred from Incapacity benefit to ESA many years ago. They were automatically placed onto Contributions based ESA and weren't assessed for the Income Related top. This means that thousands lost out on money that they were entitled to. DWP have realised their mistake and are now contacting those that maybe affected.
  • Gill_ScopeGill_Scope Posts: 261Member, Helpline Chatterbox
    edited October 23

    Hello, especially @poppy123456, @debrightstar and @trixiewoo

    There are two separate issues under discussion here.

    @Debrightstar is talking about the government (DWP)'s failure to consider both income-related and contributory ESA payments when moving people from incapacity benefit and other benefits between 2009 and 2018, whilst @trixiewoo is talking about DWP or jobcentre mis-advice to her when she wanted to claim contributory ESA in a full service Universal credit area and was told that she couldn't.  

    The government has indicated now that they believe that 180,000 people were affected by the first of these errors, and we so far have no idea how many people in full service Universal Credit areas have been told that they cannot claim contributory ESA. (We have frequent calls about this amongst other Universal Credit issues at the helpline). 

    ESA Underpayments

    In the latest Government report on ESA Underpayments  published last week, key points were:
    • At the moment, DWP estimates that up to 180,000 people could be due an arrears payment.
    • DWP anticipates it will have finished reviewing cases of people who may be affected by the underpayment at the end of 2019.
    • Some people will receive their payment next year, while others will receive  theirs in 2020.
    • So far, 18,000 people have received a payment, with the average payment being £7,000

    The DWP has said it will contact claimants to tell them if they have been affected by the change, so, they say, people don’t need to contact them. This uncertainty must be  be difficult for people to manage.

    Anyone uncertain is very welcome to contact the Helpline to ask about their particular circumstances. 

    Basically, if you should have been entitled to income-based ESA at the time when you were moved from Incapacity or another benefit onto ESA, then this should be put right. 

    Examples of people who might have been entitled would be people who live alone or with a partner who was also not working, provided that any savings held at that time don't exceed £16,000. The usual means test needs to be done, and this involves adding personal allowances, premiums, support group component, housing costs and deducting from the total whatever income if any you had at that time. 

    It does seem that although the DWP has asked people to wait to be contacted, people who contact them do get dealt with, so it may be worth trying that.

    What we are not sure of currently, is how complicating factors like payments for children, or for housing through housing benefit, support for mortgage interest  or free prescription charges will be handled. It's possible that the DWP may be forced to make ex gratia payments to people who cannot now be paid their entitlement. If there is no longer a statutory entitlement to benefit  and an error has been made, the DWP is obliged to put such matters right through an ex gratia payment. It is early days for this, but so many people lost part of their entitlement through the error, that it is likely that we will hear more of this, and that there could be test cases in months or even years to come. 

    Someone may be advised to move on to UC now through natural migration. If it later transpires that they’re due an arrears payment, they could at least initially miss out on getting disability premiums in legacy benefits and therefore transitional protection in Universal Credit for their claim going forward. So far, the DWP haven’t been able to give us an answer on this.

    Contributory ESA in a full service Universal Credit area

    And so onto the second issue. This is a training issue for DWP staff who, when asked if a person can claim contributory ESA (perhaps they have just had to leave work for health reasons, and have a partner who is working, for example), tell their customer that they have to claim universal credit, and don't tell them that they can claim contributory ESA, based on the fact that they have paid national insurance contributions and now cannot work.

    Universal credit is not appropriate because they are not entitled to it if the partner's earnings are too great, and if they miss the opportunity to claim ESA and don' t make further enquiries, they can lose that entitlement for ever.

    Contributory ESA is based not upon an entire national insurance contribution history, but upon contributions made in the last two complete tax years.

    People in this situation do need to persist and insist upon claiming (so-called "new-style") contributory ESA - I believe that the claim form is either always or often a clerical form. To claim this benefit, phone the DWP on  0800 328 5644.

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance#how-to-claim-new-style-esa

    Gill

    Scope Helpline 

    Tel: 0808 8003333

    (Please note that yesterday and today, we have had technical problems (to do with the phone network) at the Helpline and cannot answer calls. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and look forward to being up and running either later  today or very soon)





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