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Committee Chair calls for answers on benefit cap and more

8 September 2020

The Work and Pensions Committee publishes the Government response to its report DWP’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The report, published in June, made a number of recommendations about supporting those claiming Universal Credit, as well as legacy benefits and those with no recourse to public funds due to their immigration status.

It also made recommendations on the HSE and called on the DWP to develop a strategy for dealing with the effects of the economic downturn.

Committee Chair Stephen Timms MP has now written to the Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey MP to press the Department on a number of points not addressed by the Government response.

Chair's comments

Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:

“We don’t necessarily expect the Government immediately to accept every recommendation we make. But we do expect that it will at least explain its position. This response to our report leaves many questions unanswered.

In the course of our inquiry, we heard concerns that the Government’s very welcome increases to some benefit rates would be undermined by the benefit cap. Ministers assured us in April that only a small number of people would be affected. In fact, DWP’s own statistics show that 84,000 households were newly capped between February and May this year.

The Secretary of State also assured the House in May that she was looking very carefully at what could be done for people who had mistakenly applied for Universal Credit and left themselves worse off as a result. We recommended that the Government act urgently to put this right. It now seems that nothing is going to be done for these people. If that’s the case, the Government should say so clearly, and explain why.

Just as importantly, there seems to be little acknowledgement of the role of the Department in planning for future pressure on the social security system. There needs to be a firm commitment to analysing how coronavirus has affected levels of poverty and a clear strategy—available for public scrutiny— for coordinating the employment response to the economic downturn.”

Further information

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