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Government cannot reclaim on overpaid benefits- new Appeal Court ruling

Thursday, 15th 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'.




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