Text Only Version Last Update: Press Releases (28 April 2023)
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David Ruffley MP
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David Ruffley
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Conservative shadow minister for welfare reform David Ruffley’s latest parliamentary question shows total overpayment of income support, jobseekers allowance and pension credit now reaches £2.5 billion
“My latest Parliamentary Question has revealed a shocking level of overpayment of benefits caused by DWP Ministers’ incompetence. So now the DWP’s permanent secretary, in a leaked letter of 18 April, orders ‘action teams’ to try and sort out the chaos.
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“Over the last 8 years, total overpayment of income support has now reached £1.17 billion. Overpayments last year alone were £200 million - one and a half times higher than in 1997/98.
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“Over the last 8 years, total overpayment of jobseekers allowance has now reached a staggering £910 million.
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“And Pension Credit overpayment has trebled in the last three years - from £40 million in 2001/02, to £130 in 2004/05. Total overpayment of this benefit now amounts to £540 million since 1997.
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“OVERPAYMENTS OF THESE THREE BENEFITS ALONE NOW AMOUNTS TO OVER TWO AND A HALF BILLION POUNDS ON NEW LABOUR’S WATCH. OVERCOMPLICATION IS CAUSING OVERPAYMENT. ITS TIME WE HAD A FAIRER, SIMPLER BENEFIT SYSTEM.
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“This benefit chaos is matched by tax credit chaos. Tax Credits were overpaid by £1.9 billion in the year 2003/04 (the latest year for which figures are available).
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David Ruffley continued:
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“Last month, many pensioners faced a claw back of overpayments caused by a dud payments system - until Ministers did a u-turn.
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“But now we learn that Leigh Lewis, Permanent Secretary at DWP, has ordered all staff at Jobcentre Plus, at Pensions Centres and Disability and Carers Service to tackle benefit overpayment and to improve their benefit systems.
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“This tired talk of ‘task forces’ is New Labour spin we’ve heard so many times before. We are getting bored with these relaunched initiatives to get tough. All that happens is that the overpaying gets worse.
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“Gordon Brown’s fiddling with the benefit system, and DWP Ministers incompetent running of it, is causing chaos. It is confusing vulnerable claimants, many of whom will, quite understandably, have spent any money overpaid to them. It is also not getting taxpayers’ money to the people who need it most.
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“So I call on John Hutton to say whether he will clawback overpayments caused by his Department’s errors from vulnerable income support and jobseekers claimants. I also ask him to come to Parliament to explain when he is going to get a grip of these rising overpayment figures. Claimants and the taxpayers deserve a properly run benefit system that is simpler and fairer. New Labour’s welfare system isn’t working.”
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20 April 2023
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