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5,000 died without benefit entitlements in botched ESA switch

20 January 2020

A government error saw 5,000 chronically ill and disabled people die before they could receive benefits they were entitled to.

The error occurred when they were switched over from incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance to employment and support allowance (ESA).

The DWP failed to follow its own guidance in properly checking claimants' full entitlements before switching, A review is now being undertaken of 600,000 cases with 122,000 people being paid on average £5,000 to which they are entitled.

DRUK's Evan Odell said: “That 5,000 disabled people were denied the proper support to live independently before they died is scandalous, as is the 112,000 people who had had to wait years for these errors to be corrected.

“To make matters worse, the problems with the employment and support allowance system that have led to hundreds of millions of pounds of arrears payments are still present. Seventy-five per cent of ESA applicants who appeal DWP decisions to the social security tribunal win; this case is merely one more piece of evidence showing how ESA is not fit for purpose.”