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Friday 13th July 2012 | 11:18
The Minister for Disabled People (Mrs Maria Miller MP):
"Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA) are paid to people with extra needs arising from their disabilities. These benefits are administered by the DWP. Where people are of state pension age and are receiving state pension or pension credit, it has become normal practice to combine the payment of AA or DLA with state pension and pension credit so that the customer receives one combined weekly payment of benefit. These combined payments are administered by DWP Benefit Centres and Pension Centres.
"In 2007 errors of duplicate payments were found for AA and DLA. Action was taken at the time and assurances given to Parliament that the situation was resolved. In 2011, in support of the Departments strategy to reduce losses to public funds, DWP Accounting Services began running a new scan across its payment systems. This identified that a full solution had not been found in 2007 and as a result duplicate payments continued to be paid in approximately 1,600 cases. The rate of duplicate payment varies from £20.55 to £131.50 a week depending on the award of AA or DLA and the estimated total overpayment is £16m. It is extremely disappointing that this situation was not resolved in 2007 and that thorough monitoring was not put in place then in light of the fact that mistakes had been identified now.
"To rectify this, a monitoring programme has been put in place to ensure that there should be no further duplicate payments occurring in the future, and it is clearly right that these cases should now be corrected. However given the age and disability of the customers affected, we have considered carefully how we carry out recovery. Indeed 60% of cases have an appointee. Each case will be considered on an individual basis and customers will be contacted to explain our error. I will consider making ex gratia payments, in a small number of cases where we consider it inappropriate to withdraw the over provision of benefit. Based on information held by the Department the estimated cost of these payments will be no more than £500k in a full year. I will also be writing to appointees to remind them of their duties to ensure correct payment."