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OLDHAM: DWP Vouchers issued three months late

More than a thousand Oldham residents received household support fund payments more than three months late due to a paperwork error, say Oldham council.

The 1,069 eligible residents were mistakenly ‘left out’ from receiving £60 vouchers, which were supposed to help with bill payments during the winter. 

The vouchers, funded by the Department of Work and Pensions via the Household Support Fund, were supposed to be distributed to carers, disabled residents and housing benefit claimants who are not in receipt of Council Tax reductions. 

Saddleworth West & Lees councillor Sam Al-Hamdani said: “I was frankly taken aback when I saw the number of people that it had affected.”

He raised the issue with council officers for a resident in his ward but soon realised it was a wider problem. Council officers traced the mistake to a change in how the Department of Work and Pensions, who provide the council with information about who is eligible for the payment, shared their data. 

Al-Hamdani said: “I started off just fixing one payment for one person. It’s definitely not every day that you end up doing something that benefits over 1,000 people. It really makes this job worthwhile.”

The vouchers were issued in March to those missed out in December. Oldham local Kim Wozere said that even though the voucher came late, it ‘made a difference’ to her dad, who is bedridden due to a heart condition. 

She said: “He pays a small fortune on food due to allergies and his illness. £60 doesn’t go far in a supermarket but it’s a weekly shop for him.

“We didn’t even realise he was eligible at first – we thought it was a scam!”

An Oldham Council spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the mistake was due to a new format used by the DWP when providing information about who was eligible for the support. More than 10,000 people received their vouchers in December, but around 10 percent were missed off the list. 

The spokesperson said: “The council subsequently identified that some eligible residents hadn’t received a payment due to the format the information was held and unfortunately were not picked up during the initial extract of eligible residents. 

“This included those residents in receipt of savings credit where the disability benefits were included in the ‘assessed income figure’ provided by the DWP and those in receipt of the carer element within their Universal Credit. 

“In March 2024, a further list of eligible residents was extracted, and an additional 1,069 residents were issued with a £60 payment.”

The DWP payments encountered problems during their roll-out in December too, when many residents struggled to cash the vouchers, with many shops refusing to accept them.

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