CLACKMANNANSHIRE’S MSP has called on the government to backdate benefits for any residents who have been left out of pocket by a major error.

Keith Brown, MSP for Clacks and Dunblane, is advising any benefits-claiming constituents to make sure they claim backdated payments to which they were refused unfairly by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

The cases involve people who were denied payments they should have been entitled to after a six-year failure by the UK Government to fix system errors in the transfer of claimants from incapacity benefit to ESA as part of its much-criticised Universal Credit reforms.

The failure was highlighted in a damning Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on the issue, which finally prompted the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to order the dropping of legal action by the UK Government to try to avoid having to make backdated payments.

The PAC report highlights an estimated 70,000 claimants were underpaid by £5,000-£20,000 between 2011 and 2016 because the DWP underpaid them incorrectly when moving them from incapacity benefit to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

The error also meant that claimants were denied their right to support with the cost of medical prescriptions, dentistry, and school meals. The PAC estimate the cost of fixing the UK government's error will be more than £350 million in back payments and administrative costs alone.

The MSP said: “The Tory Government’s policies and performance over benefit payments has been appalling and its long list of failures grows.

“However, even a belated admission that they have failed badly in administering their own reforms and have been short-changing those in need who qualified for payments between 2011 and 2016 has to be welcomed.

“The important thing now is to ensure that everyone who was entitled to payments but was denied them when they were transferred from incapacity benefit to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is paid the money to which they are entitled.

“Therefore, anyone who thinks they qualify for these backdated payments should immediately contact the job centre to ensure that they are being properly assessed and paid any money they were previously unfairly denied.”