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18 May 2009

Benefit system failing Edinburgh families

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West today hit out at Labour’s failure to reform the benefit system after new figures indicate that Edinburgh families may be losing more than ever because of mistakes in benefits payments.

New National Audit Office released figures have revealed that the number of benefit overpayments has increased over the past year.

These latest figures show that over 1 million incorrect benefit payments were made in financial year 2007/8, totalling £558 million. While the figures did show that the government recovered more of the overpaid benefits than the previous year, this will come as no consolation to many families who had already spent the money they were then asked to repay.

Mr Barrett, a long-time campaigner for simplification of the benefits system is urging the Tax Credit Office to take responsibility for its mistakes and simplify the system.

John Barrett said:

“Not only do these overpayments lead to increased personal debt on the part of the individuals concerned, but they also add to the already substantial national debt - by over a quarter of a billion pounds last year.

“The stories I hear from my constituents are absolutely shocking. They are already struggling to manage their household budget and see it thrown into chaos through benefit overpayments and the subsequent debt recovery.

“The system must be simplified and I sincerely hope that the government will take seriously the recommendations made by the National Audit Office.”

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.