To add to the Government’s current troubles, the National Audit Office yesterday released figures on the overpayments made by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) last year. Overall the DWP overpaid benefits by £588 million - out of a total of £106 billion – and although the DWP recovered £272 million, over £250 million (including £28 million paid to those who had died) were written off.
This is not the first time DWP has lost millions through overpayment, and it is getting unreasonable for taxpayers to have foot the bill for the Department’s repeated failings. The worst aspect of overpayment is of course the harm it causes the recipients, forced (often long after cheques have been deposited and spent) to find cash they can rarely afford. The Government has now had years to correct systems in order to avoid making a mess like they have – once again – over benefit payments. The DWP has a difficult job, for getting a handle on the monstrously complicated benefit system it has developed is probably impossible, but it must prove to taxpayers that is ensuring it receives full and accurate information on all recipients, improving its efficiency and preventing overpayment.