Sheffield MP Louise Haigh demands an end to “unacceptable” benefit delays

Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, has called for an end to delays at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that have left claimants without access to social security payments for months.

As part of the procedure for claiming Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance, claimants are required to undertake Work Capability Assessments, which judge their health and ability to work. However, DWP suspended all face-to-face assessments in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some claimants have been offered replacement telephone assessments but, in other cases, the DWP has decided that face-to-face assessments are still required. As a result, some people have been left without social security payments for months as they wait for a face-to-face meeting to be arranged, with no indication of when this will take place. It is also not clear whether payments will be backdated to cover the delay.

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The Citizens Advice Bureau has warned that disabled people are being plunged into debt and rent arrears because of these delays, and Louise Haigh has taken up local cases with the DWP.

Louise Haigh MP said: “These delays have left people in limbo for months without the money they need to make ends meet.

“They have no idea when their assessment will take place and, in the meantime, they’re being pushed into more and more debt as bills mount up.

“This is another example of how our broken social security system fails to treat people with dignity and respect.

“It’s clearly unacceptable and I have written to the DWP to demand that they urgently deal with these cases.”