The DWP claims it costs too much to say how many alternative arrangements for payment of universal credit were requested and rejected in the most recent 12-month period for which figures are available.
Responding to a written Commons question, DWP minister Will Quince told chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, Frank Field MP, the department was unable to provide the data.
“The information is not readily available, and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost,” said Quince.
Switching the context of his question from fortnightly to weekly, Field received the same response.
Again, Quince said: “The information is not readily available, and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.”
That answer was on repeat for Field’s third go, this time questioning the reasons given by the DWP or rejecting alternative payment arrangement requests over the most recent 12-month period for which figures were available.
“That information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost,” said Quince.
As reported by 24housing, the DWP has form for ducking behind “disproportionate cost” when faced with written Commons Questions on Universal Credit.
Labour’s Ruth George got a little more out of Quince on asking how the DWP has spent on payments of Universal Credit advances to claimants – in each month since advances were introduced.
Quince said around 60% of new claims take up an advance and, subject to some fluctuation, this rate of advance take-up has been broadly consistent over the last 12 months.
There was more: “As the overall Universal Credit caseload grows, we expect the volume and value of advance payments to change in correlation.
“This shows that claimants are being made aware of advances and are using it where they need this help.”
As for the figures George asked for – they ranged from £1,000 in June 2013 to £103,096,000 in May this year.