DWP LETTER: I had a letter about a... - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation
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I had a letter about a month ago from the DWP stating that I owe them £3800.00p as a result of benefit overpayment.

This was entirely thier fault, it was not because I made a fraudulant claim or anything like that, they just made an error in my benefits that resulted in my being overpaid, this is going back nearly 12 years.

I phoned them and told them it wasn't my fault and they said that under the new legislation they can reclaim overpaid benefits no matter whose fault it is.

I contacted the Citizens advice bureau, Welfare rights unit and also the Community legal service but they said there was nothing they could do due to the new legislations.

I have worked out all my outgoings and it comes to £391.00 monthly. My benefit is £400.52 monthly.

They have told me they are going to take 23.66p per week (£94.64p monthly) untill the overpayment is cleared. I can of course pay the overpayment of in full if I wish in a single payment, They accept credit and debit card payments.

thats a laugh, I only have a basic bank account with no overdraft facilities or credit cards. I only use it to have my benefit paid in to.

I go to a support group for depression once a week that costs £2.00p (£8.00p monthly)

I also go to a gym twice a week for exercise that costs £3.00p (24.00p monthly)

These were advised by my gp and CBT therapist as I have COPD, severe depression, ocd and GAD.

The DWP told me I would be £32.00 per month better off if I stopped going to these.

I never go through the door except to the two above mentioned activities due to my depression, COPD and GAD

I am at my wits end, I just have no idea how I am supposed to manage as now they are taking £94.64p a month of me I don't have enough left to live on.

I just don't understand it at all, I had no idea I was being overpaid, It was thier mistake, now I am being forced to correct it.

Anyone else have this problem with the dwp?


18 Replies

Not with DLA but with Working Tax Credits, perhaps a year or so ago now. I've no idea how it happened, but they claimed they had overpaid us and sent a demand, very similar to what you've had, asking for repayment. My wife was paying £10 a month and the debt was down to about £90, according to a letter they sent us a few months ago. We had missed a payment due to insufficient funds in the account so they, in their wisdom, cancelled the direct debit and sent a demand instead.

I rang to try and re-arrange the direct debit, but they wanted to speak only to my wife as it is her bank account the payments were being made from. They then claimed that we owed a much larger amount, supposed to be from previous years. They could not give me any details and I had to write to their Preston office, I think it was. That was a few weeks ago now and I'm still waiting for a reply.

The guy I spoke to said that £10 a month was not enough - yet he could see that we are claiming working tax credits due to a low income, and that it is at a reduced rate already.

I was waiting to hear what they had to say about the supposed arrears that I knew nothing about, I'd almost forgotten about it until I saw your message. If we had in any way 'fiddled' the system then I'm sure we would have been dragged through the courts and thrown into the 'debtors gaol' by now, so I can only assume it was an error on their part that we are now being blamed for!

If I get any hassle then I will be contacting my MP's office about it, they can't get blood out of a stone and if they've decided that we need to be paid benefits then that shows we don't have money to throw about. It seems there are many people at the DWP who have watched Little Britain too much, because the computer they use keeps saying no...

If it is now our fault that there has been an overpayment then I will happily invite the DWP to commence court action and I will go and have a word at the magistrates court about the threats and intimidation to take excessive amounts, if that is how the intend treating us... :x

I suggest contacting your MP's office and see what they can do to help. My next choice after that would be the local papers, they like a good story about abusing the infirm, especially when it's a government department ;-)

In my dealings with HMRC, they have never tried to back-date anything more than 6 years as this is some sort of legal cut-off date that one is expected to keep financial records, I do not know if the DWP follow the same rules but worth asking about. I have read the latest benefits laws and it does say about reclaiming overpayments no matter where the fault lies but when does it apply you cannot be prosecuted for something that was not against the law at the time, all these new changes are so unfair to the people who need the help most..!

Yup get in touch with your MP asap. This bunch change the rules to suit themselves. You live on what the law says is the minimum amount you need so paying back even £1 a month is 50p too much.

This is disgraceful behaviour on the part of the DWP and, as has already been suggested, I agree that a phone call, or email, or letter to your local MP is in order, and maybe back this up with a letter from your doctor about how much stress and anxiety this error of theirs is causing you.

I see no reason why they cannot take a token payment each week/month. Why should you give up something that is beneficial to your physical and mental well being in order to rectify a mistake that was not of your making. Counter their demand by offering £2 a month on the basis that this is all you can afford.

I wish you all the luck in the world :)

Cant offer any advice but do feel for you hope you get it sorted soon, anxiety only makes breathing worse good luck


Hope you get this sorted. You really don't need the stress and it is appalling that laws like this ever get passed. Try your MP. You could also speak to the BLF helpline, who may have other suggestions.

I find it absolutely appalling that you find yourself in this situation-I have no advice to give other than to heed Gordon and contact your MP , THE PRESS , LOCAL COUNCIL- shout from the roof tops -do not accept the DWP decision- refuse to pay for someone else's mistake-this is not Anarchy or Revolution but a basic requirement to receive the full award that you have been given-you cannot be left in a minus position-

I am sorry that you are being treated in this despicable way- best of luck.....


You are not alone in this travesty,

several years ago my husband was out of work, he got a job which was part time, he still needed to care for me.

Anyway he was advised to claim working tax credit, at that time he was not very computer literate we didn't have the net then couldn't afford it. With help from a colleague he went on the DWP site and filled in the questionaire, it said he qualified, they take your earnings from the previous years.

We got the benefit no problem after sending in all the information they required.

The next year we renewed as they ask you to, and sent relevant documentation again.

Two months later my husband was offered full time work very close to home so he could get to me if I needed help.

I phoned DWP told them he was now working, again they said it doesn't matter as the claim is based on the previous year!! I still sent a letter and copied it.

We didn't hear any more for six months and didn't renew when they sent the forms.

Then we got the bill!! We owed them £2553.

We tried to fight them, I pointed out that I had informed them six months ago and was told it is ok.

We then got out all our statements, and calculated what they had paid us, it was £2500.

They were asking for £53 pounds more than they paid us.

I had kept a record of phone calls, I always do when dealing with DWP. I said that I phoned and sent a letter to say my husband was working full time and didn't need the benefit, and why are they asking for £53 extra.

To cut a very long story short they deducted from when I said I'd phoned ,although they said they had no record! and had no trace of my letter! I sent them my copy!!

We had to settle on paying back £1500. Our last payment of £100 a month finishes in December this year.

It seems we were not entitled to any working tax credit!! Even though we qualified on their web site!

We were not the only ones we heard about,,several people also had bills of over £2000.

No-one could help us, they just say, its their right to claim overpayments.

I feel so sorry for any one else going through this. We were lucky my husband found a well paid job, but there are many people not able to do this.

in reply to Hidden

When the forms are filled in you still have to send all the information, wage slips and so on, to them for the final calculation to be made.

Only if an attempt was made to deliberately defraud the DWP should they be demanding repayment. If, as in this case, they were advised about return to work and the claimant was told the payment was based on the previous year, which it normally is, then you need a much better explanation of how they then decided that was incorrect - and a penny by penny breakdown of how they calculate the overpayment, seeing as they are asking for more back than was paid.

As I've already mentioned, I've written to their Bolton office, as advised by their Liverpool office, to try and find out what is going on. Their department make the rules about how much people should receive, but it's a minefield trying to figure out how they arrive at the awards they give.

I wonder if the Bolton office are going to say they've not had my letter too? I do them all on the computer here, so I have the copy.

I actually called the Working Tax Credit helpline on Monday, to advise that I have now been awarded DLA - the chap I spoke to seems to think that this will affect what we receive, but had to pass the details along to be verified before they can look at a new calculation. Seems the DWP don't have access to HMRC, they have to ask!

I still can't figure out why different benefits are decided upon by different government departments myself, must cause them a lot of paperwork.

in reply to Gordon57

Hi Gordon

Your right you do have to inform them of other benefits, but DLA does not affect any other benefit as go cat said.

The £53 was an over payment from them,, they dropped more on our insistence that I had informed them by phone and letter.

Your right you have to send p60s for previous years plus a list of my benefits.

At the time I had no more fight left in me, it was a brick wall that you couldn't break down. I was having serious side effects from a very strong painkiller.

Their argument was also, we had the money (because we needed it) and had spent it!!

I know we should have fought harder, but because I was so ill at that time,

My husband just gave up, he was trying to hold down a full time job and care for me.

I have to go to my mums tonight and stay for a few days because my step dad is so very ill, we are waiting for the Macmillan nurse to get a care plan in place for my mum, and dad, at the moment my brother and I are the only ones to keep her company, but I will get all the paper work down and quote them on their decision.

Perhaps I will also tell how I was treated by the incapacity doctor, and DLA the resulting tribunal, with the help of CAB but that story can wait for another day I promise you will be shocked at that!

As I said earlier I feel so sorry for those going through it.

They need support at a time when they are so vulnerable, and 'they' know that.


I though DLA was nons means tested, so shouldnt affect your WTC Gordon.

in reply to gocat

Partly correct in that it's not counted as income in that way. It's actually a plus point as WTC has a disability element that can be triggered by gaining DLA, hence the need to update them and see if they increase that. The GOV.UK website is rather confusing on the topic so I don't know what will happen yet. If you don't tell them of a change in circumstances they could invalidate the original claim, I'm playing safe.

They did same thing to me 2 yrs ago.. their fault but I have to pay 18.24 a week from my cars allowance as I no longer claim benefits.. They make the mistakes, we pay for it..

I would say if anyone has been overpaid due to a government departments mistake,since the new rules for repayment came in should have their case reviewed by an independent body as to how quickly and how much the individual can repay as its not their mistake. No overpayments made before the new rules should be recouped as the old rules did not allow the government to recoup if their employee made a mistake when calculating. After all we only have a month to query a mistake or claim back payments, so why not a time limit on how far the government can go back on their mistakes.??Its an unfair system to the most vunerable, but mistakes do happen and people suffer because of.

Well, I took peoples advice and have written to my MP in the house of commons, but first I telephoned my local MP here where I live, I explained the situation to him and he said leave it with him and he will look into the matter. I got a call from him today, and he said he was very sorry but under the new legislation there is nothing at all he could do. He pointed out that employment and support allowance comes in 2 rates, one is means tested and the other is contribitury based (I am on the contribitury based) The amount they are allowed to take of you is a set amount set by the government, it is £10.65p per week for the means tested and £23.66p per week for the contribitury. You have no right of appeal unless you dispute the amount that you owe them . I put in an appeal stating it was not my fault, but they informed me under the new legislation they reclaim the overpayments regardless of whose fault it is.

Today I got a letter from my gas and electric supplier telling me my monthly payment plan has been cancelled as I have failed to make the agreed payments. (Now the dwp are taking £94.64p a month of my benefits I am unable to afford the £96.00p a month for my gas and electric.(£48.00p per fortnight) I guess when they bill me for the quarter I shall be cut off.

God, I wish I could go to work, then the ball is in your court, you can offer them a payment, as low as you think fit, and there is not a dam thing they can do about it.

I know one guy who went through hell with the, same sort of thing. He signed of the sick although he is not really fit for work, but now he pays them, £0.50p per week, at first he refused to pay them anything so they took him to court, he made an offer to

the court of £2.00p per month and the court accepted it. and he owes them £8500.00p

I honestly don't know what to do, my depression has nose dived and my anxiety levels are through the roof. I have tried getting a loan to repay them, I had the chance of a few as I have good credit rating, trouble is on a £3800 loan the repayments are much more than £94.64p a month and of course the longer you take the loan out for the more interest you pay.

So I have hit a brick wall



in reply to vangellis

Well, I wrote to my MP in the house of commons, I got a reply today.

It stated that although he was very sympathetic, there was nothing at all he could do due to the new legislation. He advised me to keep contacting the benefits recovery dept untill I got through to a more sympathetic operator. After 9 phone calls (on differnent days) I finally got through to somebody who lives in the real world. She listened to my struggle to pay the £23.66p a week they were taking, and after going through all my income and outgoings she dropped it to £11.00 per week, The absolute minimum they can accept is £10.65p per week, that is on the means tested ESA, I am on the contribution based ESA and the minimum is set at £23.66p per week.So to have it dropped from £23.66p to £11.00p per week is great for me. It's not ideal but a heck of a lot better than before. I am now £12.66p a week better of. Although what annoyed me most was the overpayment was equivelent to £5.10p per week, and as it was THIER fault, I should of thought that they should only reclaim it at £5.10p per week.

Still I can manage a bit better now as I am £50.64p per month better of than I was 2 days ago.

My next worry is now over the DLA, I am more or less bound to get kicked of it when they do the PIP's as I am only on the lower rate DLA carers allowance.

All these new laws/changes and legislations are making me very ill with worry, as I suffer from, recent heart attack/angina/OCD,GAD and COPD.

Why can't they just leave us alone.

I mentioned to my GP about finding a job, and he laughed in my face and said "are you kidding- NO WAY can you return to work" and that's the truth.

best wishes


i too have , that problem as u say in your case was their fault,s but because of health n everything going on around me i didnt fight it and i was left being paid 30 a wk to live on and if i hadnt had my disabled son i wouldnt have survived finacially. Someone told me that i could of just paid 10.00 a wk to clear the debt off or however much i could afford, dont know if that has now changed but worth looking into xx

Hi Vangellis, I am having a similar problem at the moment as they are saying they overpaid me for my son. They are saying the overpayments were from 2002 to 2010, I didn't receive word about this until 2011 and when I sent in an application to appeal their decision as my son wasn't taken in to foster care until June 2003 so my late wife and me were entitled to payments throughout 2002 until he was taken from us in 2003 and I also told them that as soon as my son was taken in to foster care, I have phoned them several times to inform them of this and to stop paying us money for him but they continued to do so. They said I applied to appeal the matter way to long after the overpayment period so basically they are playing a crafty by leaving it so long to contact me then saying the appeal time had lapsed. I have been checking things out and have found legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/19... which is the up to date copy of Social Security Administration Act 1992 Section 71 which states that DWP are entitled to claim back overpayments of benefits only if the claimant did not disclose the relevant information and carried on claiming what they were not entitled to basically so if you informed them that they were overpaying you then "Yes" you have done the right thing but if you didn't contact them when you realised they were overpaying you then in the eyes of the English Law, they would not look at it as being the fault of the DWP but would probably make the excuse that because you didn't contact them it is your fault (like they try to do with most things).

Anyway, have a look through the section and check to see if there is anything there that can help you out of this horrible situation as to me it seems as if, where all the MP's are now full of money and class themselves as higher classed then anyone else (even though no person is any different than any other person as we are all made from the same thing), they seem to be trying to get people in our positions out of the country as they probably just want the rich and wealthy living in England and Wales.

Best of luck with sorting out your problem with them.

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