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Government cannot reclaim on overpaid benefits- new Appeal Court ruling

Page last updated Tuesday, 27 October 2009

049-benfitsCPAG wins appeal on overpayment recovery

The Appeal Court ruled on the 14th October 2009 that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions cannot recover overpayments of social security benefits through the courts where the claimant is not at fault.

The case was brought by the Child Poverty Action Group, CPAG, after the government wrote to over 65,000 claimants telling them it could take them to court at common law if they did not pay back overpayments.

The government letter acknowledged that the money was paid owing to a DWP error and was not recoverable under social security law. The benefits include many of those that cost the taxpayer the most, including income support, incapacity benefit, housing benefit, pension credit and the state pension.

The court’s decision means the government cannot write such letters to claimants in future.

CPAG is considering whether claimants can recover money they may have already repaid.

Commenting on the ruling, Child Poverty Action Group’s solicitor, Sarah Clarke, said:

“We brought this case because we know that letters sent to vulnerable claimants threatening court action if they do not repay have caused considerable distress. We are delighted with the ruling that the DWP cannot recover these overpayments through the courts.”

CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.

More on this test case can be found at their website cpag.org.uk

DebtWizard comment

This basically means the tax payer will pick up the bill for the incompetence of the bureaucrats at the Department of Work and Pensions which auditors are claiming to be as much as £900million in overpayments last year alone. 

This ruling has affected the poorest people in our society and they do not have the means to repay the sums claimed.

Had the DWP won the case all they would have done would stop be to the current benefits to those that had been overpaid until they had recovered the amounts which  would have caused considerable hardship and misery.

Important point to note, this ruling does NOT affect 'over payment of tax credits'. There is a separate campaign about this on which you can find out more at the

CPAG Amnesty for tax credits overpayments


Speak your mind


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martha (Guest) Tuesday, 24 June 2014

If the DWP do not turn up at the first tier tribunal, can they go to the upper tribunal

pat 1 (Guest) Monday, 21 April 2014

can dhss recover overpayment from 25 years ago

Theresa Cave (Guest) Friday, 14 February 2014

I cant believe I got a letter from DWP today and it says that by 'their' mistake they had overpaid my mam three times one for £39 one for £111 and one for £79 my mam died on boxing day and 'I' have to pay them back !! they even sent me postal order payment slips im devastated I don't get my carers now just £23 per week plus Toms child tax £62 per week to live on what do I do please? The thing is they owed my mam areas when her money was put up to high rate due to her terminal cancer, she died on boxing day on 'high rate' but no high rate payments were given to her. Thank you

michelle (Guest) Saturday, 04 January 2014

I have been a contacted by the DWP to say that they have overpaid me between 2005-2010 they claimed that I had a partner living with me at my address this came about because my childrens father had used my address for his post I have been asked to pay back 45000.00 between the DWP AND HOUSING /COUNCIL tax benifites I did go through the tribunal court at a cost of 900.00 to me the case was disallowed when I got to the tribunal court I suddenly realised that I had no chance of winning my case as the judge was referring to the DWP representive by name how clicky was that after all the all work from the same sheet what a waist of money I am a single parent of a disabled child if I pay 50.00 a month it will take me 84yrs to repay how can myself and my son look to future when this is going to my grave with me.this just seems so unfair and I feel so down it is affecting my son can anyone offer me any advice on how I can carry on.thank you

Alex ( guest) (Guest) Monday, 05 November 2012

My mother has just had a meeting with someone from the council claiming that she has been overpaid housing benefit because she did not provide details of my deceased fathers pension, 8 years ago when he died. I know for a fact they were provided with the details as I sent in in myself. My mother is 73 and in very poor health, what is the best way to deal with this without stressing her too much? It is their word against ours.

Mr Confused (Guest) Thursday, 20 January 2011

I was in receipt of incapacity benefit and got a job back in june 2006. Phoned up the DWP and informed them of the change, where i was working, address of new boss etc so they could send my P45 etc. Was told i would be getting a back to work bonus of £100 and could do a rapid reclaim anytime up to a year if it didnt work out. Followed this up same day with a letter telling same details. Worked at firm for 2 1/2 years without probs, using NI number, tax code etc. All logit and proud of it. Turns out they kept paying my benefit to my bank for this period, no letters or forms filled in or medicals in all that time. Now im being pulled in for claiming while working yet it was their mistake. How can i prove it was an error by them not a fraud? HELP!!

Paul (Guest) Saturday, 26 June 2010

In 2004 I completed a DWP form for Incapacity Benefit. It asked if I was reciving a pension or waiting to hear about one. I wasn't so said "No". For 6 years they have written to me about my health but never asked about any income at all. Then I saw a form received by a friend and on the front page it said if you are receiving a pension you must tell us. Nowhere in the form did it ask about pension eg are you receiving a pension YES/NO. I rang up and was told that I had to write to them or ring them but they could not answer why the booklet did not ask the YES/NO question or give details of how to inform them. Now they want all payments made repaid - including the tax!

Nbuzz (Guest) Monday, 26 April 2010

I had to pay a lot back for tax credits when I reported a change of address and moving in with my partner the day I moved and assumed it would be ok - I had to repay £60 a month for a year and a half still paying now. But when I had my baby last year and went back to work I called about my maternity allowance the moment I saw the error and months after I got a letter saying I owe about the same again. No way I have written a long letter of appeal and sent my original letters and dates of each call and stated I feel I shouldn't have to pay back after so many calls each month and all that stress it's their fault they were incapable i will not get in trouble for their mistake I wish I took my full leave now they might have organised it better

Joanna (Guest) Monday, 29 March 2010

I have recently received a letter from DWP debt department demanding recovery of an overpayment they made 3 months after I started working 30.5 hours a week in a primary school; I had informed them I was working and my Income Support was terminated before I started work!!! The DWP are still sending out letters stating that they were not informed of changes, when clearly they were and they are at error!!! What is going on ???

Debtwizard Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Hi Mandy

Got the link to work now, just click onto it.

Link http://www.debtwizard.com/debt...it-checkup

Best wishes


Debtwizard Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Hi Mandy

Sorry to hear things are tough at the moment, have you gone to the CAB to see what they can do to help you, or National Debt Line? Full details of both including phone numbers here: http://www.debtwizard.com/debt...anisations

Just in case I wish to give you another link which is a 'Benefit check up' would be great if this could come back with you entitiled to more money to help matters.


Best wishes and good luck.


mandy (Guest) Thursday, 05 November 2009

I went back to full time work in Feb2007 and as a single mum of 4 teens, in receipt of H/Benefit, notified Revenues accordingly. It was such a struggle financially due to working the extra 17 hours per week, that I had to revert to part time, as I had lost the part time financial aid. I am struggling to pay debts to the world and his brother and I have now received a notice of my H/Benefit decrease, due to overpayment in 2007, when I went full time. I am already in Rent Arrears, which are paid Direct Debit, £30 for weekly rent and £25 off my arrears. Now I have to find another £20 weekly to cover the overpayment recovery. My H/Assiciation are threatening to invoke the suspended possession order, due to shortfall in rent.
I know Revenues (especially the Housing Benefit section) are slow in processing paperwork and that in the past, my paperwork must have been filed in the bin, as it has vanished; but to claim a repayment after 2 and a half years, especially after they WERE notified, is grim to say the least.


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