DWP has released this week new figures and charts as above for the amount of social security benefit that goes unclaimed and the above shows over 4 million families did not claim what they were entitled to in just four social security benefits.
What the DWP report does NOT say is they are overtly attempting to deceive with their headline figures and amounts – and the real total figure of welfare that goes unclaimed is THREE TIMES HIGHER than these partial DWP figures.
The four headline social security benefits the DWP uses only show an aggregate of around £11 billion per year unclaimed when the actual figure for all welfare is £35 billion and three times this deceitful DWP headline amount.
DWP has chosen to release different figures too than they did last time so here is a like-for-like comparison or as best as can be done between these figures and the last ones DWP released.
Last year I issued a post based on DWP figures for 2013/14 that came to £90 million per day being entitled to in all ‘welfare’ (social security benefit and tax credits) yet going unclaimed – a total of £33 billion per year.
Today I update that and in just the four headline social security benefits the DWP published for 2015/16 which are just a small part of overall welfare unclaimed we see an overall increase of £850 million per year as the table below reveals.
Apologies for the substance over style nature of the crude tables above yet they reveal when a factual comparison is made between the years 2013/14 and 2015/16 that:
- Income Support / ESA sees £510 million per year MORE going unclaimed
- Pension Credit sees £40 million per year LESS going unclaimed
- Job Seekers Allowance having £170 million per year LESS unclaimed
- Housing Benefit seeing £550 million MORE going unclaimed.
Collectively on these four headline benefits alone a further £850 million went unclaimed in 2015/16 than it did in 2013/14.
Last year I released the figures for 2013/14 which revealed that in total for all ‘welfare’ around £33 billion per year went unclaimed and I quote from that below:
This DWP report only chose to report on a few social security benefits which I summarised in a table (below)
To compare like for like with Table 1 above which are mean figures we firstly need to say the mean in the 2013/14 figures for these four social security benefits alone was £13.83 billion and now that has increased by a further £850 million – an increase of 6.15%
Hence when we extrapolate the overall £90 million per day in total welfare that goes unclaimed despite being entitled to becomes £95.54 million per day and yearly from £33 billion to £34.89 billion per year.
So much for the fabled ‘benefit scrounger!’
It has known to me and politicians of all parties for decades that there is always a significant non take up rate of means tested benefits. Now we see that this is circa £27 billion per year and a further £8 billion per year being unclaimed in tax credits making 35 billion in total welfare.
Universal Credit is supposed to be a one-stop-show where you only have to claim for any benefit or tax credit and you get everything you are entitled to (including Pension Credit in a few years time) and so amounts going unclaimed should be eradicated under UC. This not a penny more not a penny less principle of UC is why UC cannot work in theory because Government will need to spend £35 billion more per year in welfare and I first stated that issue over two years ago here(which also includes sources to tax credits unclaimed).
When anyone says that Universal Credit is good in theory and/or it is only the implementation of it that is wrong or that is should be delayed then this £35 billion per year added cost of it should be thrust under the noses of such commentators.
All governments seek to promote the benefit scrounger narrative to dissuade people from claiming; it is a standard strategy of every Conservative and Labour government and always has been. Greatly enhanced from 2010 undoubtedly and with unchallenged assertions that we as a country cant afford the ‘burgeoning’ welfare bill when in the UK we actually spend 10% less on welfare as a percentage of GDP than the OECD average – a fact nobody bothers to check or frankly wants to find.
This leads on to one final point that because of the nature of UK housing a high proportion of ‘welfare’ claimants live in social housing and we find that social landlord welfare teams are not effective at all. A charge the Teflon coated social housing sector will of course refute but a charge that the facts demonstrate and in doing so the social landlords are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
Even that assumes social landlord welfare teams are good at their job and disguises the fact they only tend to deal with the easiest of cases and provide just a basic level of advice and – in the main – DO NOT for example attend tribunals with tenants given the necessary long time involvement this means (and despite national overturn on appeal rates of 2 in every 3 for benefits denied.)
An even bigger charge which the facts support is that social landlords are not even getting the simplest and shortest time-involvement benefit cases right as there has been a 28% increase in the numbers of social tenants who are entitled to Housing Benefit yet do not claim. HB is the CORE benefit for social landlords and the easiest for them to help their tenants claim yet has a 28% increase in non take up numbers.
Social landlord and council welfare teams
How often do you read social landlords saying our ‘benefit maximisation teams’ claimed £1 million back for our customers last year and similar claims? Such benefit maximisation teams / welfare teams are clearly not working as they are NOT reaching those who do not claim and even the core benefit concerning landlords in Housing Benefit has seen the non take-up increase by £550 million per year!
Dig a bit deeper into Housing Benefit non take up and you find a staggering 28% increase in the numbers of social tenants who are entitled to yet not claiming Housing Benefit
Table 2 – HB non take up by sector and number of persons (HB5)
You can see that in 2025/16 some 590,00 social tenants do not claim HB when that figure was just 460,000 in 2013/14 – a 28% increase and a 130,000 mean increase in the number of social tenants who can but don’t claim Housing Benefit.
The trend for SRS shows successive falls from 2009/10 to 2014/15 yet then reverts back sharply with this 28% mean increase in 2015/16 and which is up to 70,000 more social tenants at the upper end of the scale at 670,000 in 2015/16 than it was before the onset of wide scale benefit maximisation teams in 2009/10 at 600,000.
Something is severely amiss here! You cannot excuse the figures by saying the social landlord has fewer non take-up claimants of HB than the private sector. The PRS landlord does not do welfare maximisation and local councils who are landlords and who are not landlords such as Liverpool do welfare maximisation across all tenures.
DWP does not include tenure breakdown of Pension Credit (or JSA or ESA or IS) and we know that social housing has over 3 times the number of tenants being eligible for PC that the private rented sector does so the non take-up rates of Pension Credit are very much a concern for social landlords and an issue they are failing on.
I have heard anecdotal evidence of a fair number of Housing Association welfare teams being shrunk or removed altogether and albeit a much smaller number of councils getting rid of their welfare maximisation teams. No factual data exists for this anywhere yet the above factual increases in welfare that goes unclaimed supports that anecdotal evidence.
Cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face comes to mind