DWP confirm the benefit overpayments recovery pause has ended – full details revealed

Universal Credit and other benefits such as PIP can in some instances be overpaid to claimants. This, along with other situations, could lead to claimants building up an overpayment debt which will usually need to be repaid to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

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However, due to the effects of coronavirus, the government announced that recovery of these debts would be paused to ease the burdens of claimants.

This pause was introduced early in the year and has lasted for a number of months but it was confirmed that from yesterday, repayments would again need to be repaid.

A DWP spokesperson said the following: “This Government has rolled out an unprecedented package of financial support during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as income protection schemes as well as injecting £6.5billion into the welfare safety net – including increasing Universal Credit by up to £1,040 per year.

“To further support claimants and to redeploy debt-management staff to process a record number of Universal Credit claims, we also implemented a temporary pause on recovering benefit debt owed to the department.

“Repayments resumed from July 6 with those involved being notified by the Department.

“Customers who are experiencing financial hardship can request deferral of repayments by contacting the Debt Management line on 0800 916 0647.”

The DWP went on to confirm that for those who were previously paying by direct debit, a letter will be sent to them in advance of the payments recommencing.

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These letters will provide details of the new request that has been sent to their corresponding bank.

DWP will also write to all customers who previously repaid through deductions from wages, giving them the opportunity to set up an alternative repayment plan.

It was also confirmed that: “All other customers will be notified through the usual notification channels that are issued when deductions are taken from benefit, or repayment of a debt is due to start such as journal messages on Universal Credit.”

It is important to note these repayments restarting as claimants may face consequences if they do not pay the money back.

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If repayments are not made, DWP could employ independent debt collectors to recover the debt.

There are a number of reasons as to why overpayments could occur, with the following being common causes to note:

  • The information given by a claimant was wrong
  • The claimant did not report a change in circumstances straight away
  • Wrong information was provided when a claimant reported a change in circumstances
  • A general mistake was made with the payment

If a claimant feels the DWP are incorrect in their overpayment ruling, they do have come options for challenging a decision.

A claimant can ask the DWP to review a decision again under “mandatory reconsideration” rules.

A reconsideration can be done if any of the following apply:

  • The claimant thinks that the office dealing with your claim has made an error or missed important evidence
  • The claimant disagrees with the reasons for the decision
  • The claimant wants the decision looked at again

If the claimant is still unhappy with the decision post reconsideration, they may be able to appeal the decision to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.

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