Published: Thursday, 13th January 2022

A seriously ill resident has finally received compensation after an ongoing battle with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) thanks to the Council.

Ms U, a 62-year-old disabled resident, who lives alone, had her benefits slashed by £80 a week, due to an error made by the DWP. This meant she had difficulties keeping her heating on, buying food as well as the domino effect of having no access to free medical prescriptions and urgent dental care.  

Council officers worked closely to ensure Ms U received back payments for the massive loss in benefits in 2017 and continued to campaign on her behalf to ensure she received compensation for the mental and physical anguish this had caused her. 

Cllr Mariam Lolavar, Cabinet Member for Business & Economic Growth, said:  

“Our welfare rights team has been campaigning to get Ms U’s benefits reinstated by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) since 2017. It has been a very long process and put a disabled resident through extreme and unnecessary hardship. Following the tireless work by council officers the benefits owed have been backdated however, the DWP still refused to pay compensation for its error.   

“I am delighted that the Ombudsman has ruled that Ms U is entitled to compensation from the DWP. We stand in solidarity with the Ombudsman’s recommendations to Parliament calling the DWP to award compensation automatically to everyone else who has been affected by its mistake too.  

"We are one of the few boroughs that continue to fund a welfare rights team but Ms U’s callous treatment by the DWP just goes to show what an invaluable support the team provides to our most vulnerable residents.” 

Since this error has been brought to the attention of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, it has found that those most affected were thousands of people with ‘the most limiting illnesses or disabilities’. 

DWP has since corrected the error and set about paying arrears to those affected. But it still will not allow them to claim compensation for the life-changing impact this has caused for individuals like Ms U.  

Ombudsman Rob Behrens is calling on DWP to remedy this injustice: 

“Ms U’s case is deeply distressing and a stark reminder of why accountability matters. It is human to make mistakes but not acting to right wrongs is a matter of choice. In this case, that decision has been made by the very organisation that is responsible for supporting those most in need. 

“That those affected are unable to claim compensation for this error is inhumane. It adds insult to injury after they have already waited years to receive the benefits to which they are entitled. 

“We don’t know how many more Ms Us there are out there. That is why I urge the DWP to allow people affected to claim for compensation in recognition of its error and the potentially devastating impact it has had on people’s lives.” 

Despite its initial refusal to comply in Ms Us case, DWP’s own policies state that people should be offered compensation if they suffer injustice and hardship because of administrative errors. 

If you have been affected by this issue to contact their welfare rights service. 

Contact our Welfare Rights team.

Phone: 0208 921 6375 

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