Mr Field, who chairs the Work and Pensions Select Committee, obtained the figures through a written parliamentary question, which showed that the majority of people who applied for “lifeline” benefit advances in 2016 were not paid.
The figures show that of the 197,514 applications for benefit advances recorded by the DWP in 2016 – the latest figures available – only 98,633 resulted in an actual payment.
But the true number of denied claims could be much higher, Mr Field suggests, because “the DWP has only a vague idea of how many managed successfully to do so.”
“What of the tens of thousands of people not captured by these data?”, said Mr Field. “Were they the latest victims of state-sponsored destitution?”
The figures cover working-age benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Income Support.
Ministers claim the discrepancy could be at least partly due to claimants receiving a benefit payment shortly after a request for an advance payment is submitted or reviewed by the DWP, meaning they no longer require that upfront payment.
However, Welfare Weekly has seen no evidence to either validate or challenge this apparent assumption.
Responding to Mr Field’s written question, DWP Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: “Data is also not available for unsuccessful applications and the difference between ‘received’ and ‘awarded’ applications in the table above does not equate to unsuccessful applications.”
A DWP spokesperson added: “We are not aware of anyone not getting an advance on their benefit when they need one, and we signpost people who need extra help to other support.”
It’s unclear what the Minister meant by “extra help”, but it almost certainly includes the vital service provided by foodbanks.