Westminster Debate – Department of Work and Pensions’ Risk Review Team

Images from Parliamentlive.tv

Kate Osamor MP for Edmonton, secured a debate at Westminster to discuss the suspended over 140,000 Universal Credit claims under the justification of fraudulency. Kate mentioned that she had received contact from 29 Bulgarian constituents who have has their Universal Credit payments suspended in the worst case for 11 months. Despite their UC status being restored, they have received no compensation. Kate continued, saying that many of these constituents were single mothers who now had to rely on food banks, face eviction and face a high amount of debt. Kate mentioned that many of the UC claimants had English as their second language and more support towards that group of people, the better. She goes on to ask a series of questions regarding the process the DWP Risk Review Team use, its justification to the accusations of fraudulent claims and how many people are suffering who have yet to be highlighted not just in Edmonton, but in the rest of the country.

Kate reiterates that although the Risk Review Team relates this to organised crime, those who have been impacted most heavily in Edmonton have been single mothers. There is also mention that the worst part of this policy has affected Bulgarian nationalists the most and recognises this through local Edmonton charities which are the Citizens Advice Bureau and Edmonton Community Partnership.

The Minister explained that Universal Credit suspension is always a last resort and not done so lightly. Addressing Kate’s concerns, he states that nationality is not a factor in the suspension of UC claims meaning an equalities impact assessment is not needed. He continues to say that if a claimant does contact them and if their specific claim meets the requirements, they will lift their suspension and pay any entitlement. The minster does mention however that the DWP does not receive any contact from approximately 65% of claims which have been deemed fraudulent.

Group of local Bulgarians attending one of our sessions for support from an outreach worker in one of our partnership schools due to their benefits having been suspended.

We would like to thank Kate Osamor for recognising that the local Bulgarian Community has been hit hard by this act from the Risk Review Team. Many local Bulgarians cannot speak English which could be a factor in that 65% of no contact suspended claims further increasing the need for access of services that we are trying to provide through the Bulgarian Community Project.

Click the links below to learn more about the Bulgarian Community Project and to see the full debate (starts at 16:21:21):