On 24 April the DWP published the latest statistics on the switch from paying Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) as a benefit to giving it as a secured loan giving numbers as at 18 April:
- how many people getting SMI have been sent letters and successfully contacted by phone;
- what the people who have been successfully contacted are choosing to do – take the loan, decline the loan or are currently undecided.
I commented on the previous statistics here: SMI watch – 25 March – no real progress in last week.
A large technical problem with the March figures
The DWP says:
Since the publication of the earlier figures in March, a technical issue has been corrected on the Management Information system used to produce the figures. The issue resulted in around 13 per cent of claimants’ records being moved to a new loans system ahead of the introduction of the SMI loan scheme on 6th April and meant they were missing from the earlier figures published in March. No correction will be made to the figures in March. Figures for March and April are therefore not comparable.
But I am giving the previous figures for comparison anyway. I know it’s apples and pears but there is no other way of trying to see what is happening. The incomplete old data is in blue:
The missing 13% of data in the March figures shows up clearly: the number of SMI benefit claimants was reported then as only being 90,000 and now has been corrected to 103,000.
Surely someone from the DWP should have looked at the previous data before it was published and asked why so many fewer people were getting SMI than previously thought?
- two weeks after the old SMI should have ended, only 10,000 people have actually completed the new loan documentation;
- the large jump in “successful contact made” numbers – we can’t tell if this is substantial progress in the last few weeks or the previous low numbers were just wrong;
- only 5,000 more people seem to have decided to accept the loan in the last few weeks (and that could be lower if the previous numbers were wrong). That is not exactly a rush to sign up at the last minute that Kit Malthouse, the DWP Minister, said may happen;
- the “undecided” percentage has dropped, but most of them are deciding to reject the loan.
Overall these figures are not encouraging. The numbers rejecting the new loan look simply unsafe.
Some people will have good alternatives to the new loan but no-one, including the DWP, expected them to be anywhere near as large as they are at the moment. Many of these people may have made an unwise decision.
Are you trying to decide on the new loan?
If you have been getting SMI and you are trying to decide what to do, read SMI will be a loan from April – should you agree to this?
You can change your mind if you told Serco you don’t want the loan and you realise this was a mistake. It is possible to sign up to the loan with no waiting period and even get the loan backdated to April if you want – see SMI – what happens if you haven’t agreed to take the loan?