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42,400 carers are being forced to repay benefits overpayments, even though very often these were due to failings by the DWP.

Justin Tomlinson, minister for disabled people, told MPs in a written answer that:

“As of 13th April 2021, 42,400 people were repaying Carer’s Allowance overpayments.

“The total original value of those debts was just over £138million; the total amount currently outstanding is £89million.

“The Department has a duty to recover overpaid benefits as quickly and efficiently as possible, but it is not intended that the recovery of an overpayment should cause any customer undue financial hardship.”

However, the National Audit Office found in 2019 that due to high staff turnover, the DWP had 104,000 reports of changes of circumstances in November 2019 in relation to carer’s allowance which it had failed to process. This inevitably led to large overpayments being run up.

Those same claimants are now being penalised for something that was not their fault.

The eagerness of the DWP to recover overpayments of carer’s allowance contrasts with its reluctance to pay out to claimants owed arrears of PIP under the LEAP review.

You can read Tomlinson’s full answer here.

Comments  

#2 frmarcus 2021-05-05 18:10
Plainly, if recipients failed to inform DWP of a material change that would've ceased entitlement, reimbursement is right.

If they *did* inform and no cessation of CA was enacted by DWP it should in my view have been put aside in the likely case it would have to be reimbursed. Only where the claimant was misadvised by DWP is there a clear case for non-reimburseme nt. Some cases would be unclear to the claimant, requiring DWP calculation, but others, such as earning well in excess of the threshold, or ceasing to care for 35+ hours clearly disqualify the claimant, and if DWP had failed to stop payment despite notification, that money should have been set aside.

That's the moral case. The legal case, however, hinges on the regulations for overpayment (as mentioned above). Where a claimant notified of material change that disqualified (was this acknowledged by DWP?) but DWP continued to pay and waited unduly long to reclaim it may well be that payment is not legally recoverable.

In any case, where recovery is legal but the claimant had advised of their change of circumstances, it must be affordable.

In my own dealings with DWP I always write with recorded delivery, retaining a copy and persisting for a response (which can be grossly inefficient). Phone calls to DWP may be harder to prove - as is their content unless recorded - and it has a habit of claiming that correspondence wasn't received and/or there's no record of one's call.
+1 #1 Crazydiamond 2021-04-30 16:37
Carers Allowance overpayments should not be recovered where the DWP was to blame for an official error overpayment.

Overpayments of Carers Allowance can only be recovered under Section 71 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, where there is clear evidence of a failure to disclose or misrepresentati on. Where official error was the cause, the DWP can invite repayment but cannot legally enforce repayment in the absence of a failure to disclose or misrepresentati on by a claimant.

The DWP are also not permitted to recover any overpayment under the common law procedure (see The Child Poverty Action Group (Respondent) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Appellant)) which is a Supreme Court judgement. Therefore any decision to recover an overpayment other than under Section 71 (SSAA 1992) is unlawful..

If a claimant is facing recovery of Carers Allowance outside of the statutory regulations as detailed, they should write to the DWP and demand that they repay the amount of benefit they have unlawfully recovered.

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