DWP stays silent over ‘Stone Age’ benefit claim system


theweeksubA government service that allows disabled people to complete claims for disability living allowance (DLA) online only works with outdated web browsers and computer operating systems, campaigners have discovered.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) web page should allow people to file an online claim for DLA, attendance allowance (AA) and overseas pensions.

But the page warns visitors that the “service doesn’t work with some modern browsers and operating systems” and that DWP is “considering how best to provide this service in future”, while claimants “may want to claim in another way”.

Those who click on a “tell me more” link are told that the service “does not work properly with Macs”, that “you are likely to have problems if you use Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 and 10, Windows Vista or a smartphone” and that “there is also a high risk that if you use browsers not listed below, including Chrome, Safari or Firefox, the service will not display all the questions you need to answer”.

It adds: “This is likely to prevent you from successfully completing or submitting the form.”

The website also warns that there may be problems with users of the screen-reading software packages Jaws and Supernova.

The only other options offered are to print out the 56-page application form and fill it in by hand, or to order a claim pack from the benefit enquiry line, and again fill the claim form in by hand.

One disabled campaigner said she was “amazed and appalled to discover that it is almost impossible to claim online unless you have a computer from the Stone Age”, and said the situation was “farcical beyond belief”.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “Anyone who is unable to use the existing online system to apply for DLA, AA or Overseas State Pension can always make a claim by phone.”

She stressed that the new universal credit and personal independence payment – the replacement for working-age DLA – would use new IT systems.

But she was unable to say why the DLA, AA and overseas pension system only works with old-style browsers and operating systems, how long this had been a problem, and when it would be fixed.

2 May 2013

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