DWP On The Warpath : CARERS In The Frame ! Sweep Nets 80,000+ ! Caught Up ? PLEASE REPORT ON THIS THREAD !

All about money
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A little more ... figures / action ... from the Local Government web site :
DWP pursues 80,000 carers for overpaid allowances.

The Government is pursuing thousands of carers for repayment of overpaid care allowances despite not knowing the impact this will have, auditors say.


The Department for Work and Pensions pays £66.15 a week in Carer’s Allowance to people who earn less than £123 a week and provide at least 35 hours of care a week to someone who receives a qualifying disability benefit.

On occasion, carers are overpaid or underpaid because of either an error or, in the case of overpayments, fraud.

The National Audit Office, responding to concerns raised by MPs, has carried out an investigation into the level of overpayments and repayments being made by the DWP and carers.

The report revealed that the DWP is detecting ‘significantly more’ Carer’s Allowance overpayments than has generally been the case over the past half a decade.

The department detected 93,000 overpayments in 2018-19 compared with an average of 41,000 a year detected in the previous five years due to an increase in staffing levels and new systems.

The audit also found that the DWP is seeking more repayments from carers for overpayments of Carer’s Allowance.

The Department for Work and Pensions aims to recover around £150m from carers where it is deemed the carer was at fault for an overpayment over £65.

It is looking for repayments from just under 80,000 carers for overpayments detected in the years up to now.

Just over half of these debts are under £1,000. However, there were 133 individuals with outstanding debts of over £20,000.

The DWP takes the money back by reducing benefits although legislation caps the amount that carers have to repay each week.

According to the NAO investigation, the DWP does not know how these repayments affect carers or the disabled person they care for.



80,000+ caught up ... a mere 4 identified through postings on this forum.
Frances Ryan , The Guardian , has her say ... are you sure ALL are squeaky clean , Frances ???

Compassion ?

Missing from our volcabulary ... outside of dealing with our caree.

Certainly a new word for the DWP ... and many others in our supporting circus.



Government failure has landed thousands of carers in debt.

Where is its compassion ?

The DWP should find ways to ease the burden on vulnerable families who are struggling to pay back overpayments.



Pity the poor social care system. Its place as one of the most integral parts of civilised society has done nothing to win it the government’s attention; while the green paper (first due two years ago) is still MIA, a former minister is left to field his own ideas to the press.

The result is prolonged suffering for huge swathes of disabled and older people, no less so for the carers left to plug the gaps. As cash-starved local authorities buckle under the pressure of paying care costs, 7 million people – that’s one in 10 of us – is currently caring for a loved one, often in financial hardship because they’ve had to give up or cut back hours at work to do it.

What a way to repay them, then: it has emerged that thousands of unpaid carers have been left in large benefit debt due to staff shortages at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Carer’s allowance, worth a tiny £66.15 a week, can be claimed by those who provide at least 35 hours of care to someone who receives a qualifying disability benefit.

But claimants must meet further strict criteria, such as not earning more than £123 a week or studying more than 21 hours a week. This is notoriously hard to navigate when applied to real life.

Carer’s allowance has the harshest withdrawal rate in the benefits system; the way it’s constructed means some family carers are unaware that earning even £1 over the earnings threshold can result in 100% loss of their benefit. This is even more difficult for some carers. Tracking earnings can be very complicated: for example, if you are self-employed or have irregular shift patterns.

Government officials are meant to help with this: previously, claimants’ earnings were checked at the end of every tax year and any overpayments they had received were clawed back through a reduction of the following year’s benefits. But the DWP introduced a new system that was supposed to result in overpayments being picked up more quickly.

Instead, the opposite has happened, with large numbers of faulty benefit payments going undetected by officials. A new report by the government’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office (NAO), shows the DWP is now chasing just under 80,000 carers for overpayments that went unnoticed. While many overpayments were for just one week, some went on for more than a decade before they were discovered. In some cases, carers now face repaying more than £20,000 they received in error – a task that could take decades.

It’s worth stressing that some of the poorest families in the country, already living with the weight of caring responsibilities, are now facing years of repayments to the state out of their already meagre income. It’s well established that carers are more vulnerable to mental and physical health problems and yet, as the NAO points out, legally the DWP doesn’t need to assess the impact on carers when seeking repayments and deductions from benefits, and has conducted no recent evaluation of the potential harm of its debt recovery policies.

It is emblematic of a social security system that has long managed to be both incompetent and cruel, all while being bad for the public purse (family carers add £132bn to the UK economy each year, meaning burning out carers is not in the government’s interests).

It is bad enough that the design of the benefit leaves carers vulnerable to making unintentional errors, but staff shortages meant that many people who had notified the DWP about changing circumstances still didn’t have their details processed.

In November 2018, the department had 104,000 unprocessed change-in-circumstances notifications. The NAO report suggests a staggering two-thirds of carers with overpayments of more than £2,500 could have had them stopped earlier if there were sufficient staff to investigate those flagged cases.

Regardless, there is little chance of the government taking responsibility for its part in this.

A Guardian investigation last year found the DWP is understood to be seeking hundreds of criminal prosecutions against carers due to overpaid benefits, while others face fines through civil “compliance action”. The very carers holding up the threadbare care system are criminalised, further weighed down by hardship and debt, and penalised at the whim of the state.

Instead of pushing the burden on to those who can least take it, the government should be finding ways to ease it. As the charity Carers UK is arguing, any carer whose overpayment the DWP failed to spot must have their debt written off.

But let’s not stop there. Carers have long needed an urgent increase in their benefit; changes in Scotland mean carers there are now £8.50 per week better off. The earnings limit for carer’s allowance should also be increased to match increases in the National Living Wage, while officials should make it easier to report changes that may affect their benefits.

As it stands, vulnerable families are now lumbered with years of debt, in part because of governmental failure. Ministers, it appears, could not care less.



Not bad ... a spell of actual caring would sharpen you up a bit ... skirting around the edges seems to be your style ... homing
in on the crux of any issue a little too far away ?

Social care ... built top down , not bottom up ... and , at the bottom , is the carer army.

Change the picture , not just a piece thereof !!!
Thanks to Chris and Simon for sharing the National Audit Office's report into overpayments of Carer’s Allowance which was published last week. This report showed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is detecting significantly more overpayments of the benefit and is seeking more repayments from carers.

The DWP’s decisions about the handling of Carer’s Allowance has meant that carers have not been told about overpayments quickly enough and Carers UK is calling for this to be urgently addressed.

If you have you been impacted by overpayments of Carer’s Allowance, we'd love to hear from you. If you’d be willing to share your experience with us and others, please post in this thread or email us at media@carersuk.org

Carers UK's comment on the NAO report can be found here: https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campa ... erpayments
And the NAO report is here: https://www.nao.org.uk/press-release/in ... allowance/

In a few weeks time we'll let you know what actions Carers UK has undertaken in response to the report. Thanks to all Carers UK members who have already shared their experiences of Carer's Allowance overpayments on the Forum.
Thanks Michael.

Short of announcing a law suit , I wonder if the forthcoming announcement will pacify those caught up in the purge ?

If nothing else , said Purge has sharpened opinion on all media fronts ... good luck dealing with that !

Actions ?

Ideal opportunity for a sit down session ... as in 2008 ... and ahead of the Carers Strategy :

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... reak-36397

In essence , our jailer ... and yer coffee's getting cold ... out of a machine ... it's the cutbacks , you know !

And don't forget to take copies of our Lord Kitch with you !

( Fifth request ... please make the above thread a sticky ... MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENT IN OUR HISTORY !!! )
National Audit Office

much of what we already know...

https://www.nao.org.uk/press-release/in ... allowance/
Investigation into overpayments of Carer’s Allowance.

Published April 26, 2019.

Full report Investigation into overpayments of Carer’s Allowance



The Department for Work & Pensions (the Department) is detecting significantly more Carer’s Allowance overpayments now, that it could have detected before, because it has recently put in place more people and new systems.

Carer’s Allowance is paid to people who care for people on a qualifying disability benefit. The Department detected 93,000 overpayments in 2018-19 compared with an average of 41,000 a year it detected in the previous five years. While many overpayments were for one week, some cases went on for more than a decade before they were discovered.

As a result, the Department is seeking more repayments from carers for overpayments of Carer’s Allowance, in a few cases for over £20,000. The Department aims to recover around £150 million from just under 80,000 carers where the Department deems the carer was at fault for the overpayment.

It will take a long time for carers to repay these overpayments. At the standard rate of repayment for those on benefits, it will take an average of three and a quarter years for carers to repay their debt. For those on benefits with an overpayment of £20,000 this could require repayments for the next 34 years. The Department has reclaimed £22 million of overpaid Carer’s Allowance in 2018-19 by reducing people’s benefits and through mandatory deductions from employee earnings.

The Department does not know how these repayments affect carers or the disabled person they care for. A typical scenario would see a carer relying on Income Support and Carer’s Allowance for their income to pay for general living expenses such as food, bills and clothing; a repayment of £11.10 would represent around 10% of a such a carer’s income.1 The Department has not conducted any recent evaluation of the impact of its debt recovery policies and nor is it required to under legislation. The Department currently offers hardship rates of recovery to nearly 1,000 carers struggling with repayments.

The Department has a limited understanding of underlying rates of fraud and error. The Department uses sampling to estimate the underlying levels of over (5.5%) and underpayments (0.1%) of Carer’s Allowance. The assumed rates are based on measurements from more than 20 years ago. The NAO has repeatedly recommended that the Department update its estimates, and it is now working on a new estimate for 2020.

Most detected overpayments arose because carers failed, as soon as ‘reasonably practicable’, to notify the Department with correct information about their earnings. It classifies 89% of the value of overpayments as fraud or claimant error, which are the claimant’s fault and need to be repaid.

Misunderstanding the rules around earnings and expenses can lead to carers accidentally accruing overpayments. Some carers are involuntarily caught out by the eligibility rules which create a cliff edge: carers are either entitled to the whole allowance or none of it. The Department acknowledges that it needs to improve its communications with carers to raise their understanding of their obligations. It is reviewing its initial and annual letters to carers, as well as the online guidance, to ensure carers’ obligations are clear.

Few overpayments are proven fraud. The number of people referred for prosecution for fraud fell from 1,176 in 2014-15 to 483 in 2018-19. In 2018, the Department cleared a backlog of 1,000 potential prosecution cases partly by applying more financial penalties, known as administrative penalties. The Department agreed 1,253 administrative penalties in 2018 compared with an average of 860 in the previous four years.

Some errors are the Department’s fault where it has the information to assess an award but makes a mistake. The Department has internal estimates of official error rates based on samples of new claims and changes in circumstances. These showed an overpayment rate of 1.8% and an underpayment rate of 0.8% in 2017-18.

The Department’s strategy for reducing fraud and error in Carer’s Allowance focuses on matching claims to earnings data provided by employers to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). This flags cases where carers may be earning more than the earnings limit which then need to be followed up manually. The Department has to check them with the carers themselves to verify the information. Over the past five years the Department has improved its systems of data matching so that they are more timely and more of the cases investigated lead to a detected overpayment.


In the past the Department lacked enough staff to follow up every case flagged by data matching. Between 2016 and 2018, for staffing reasons, only a monthly average of 380 (12%) cases of a potential 3,220 worthy of investigation were investigated. Around two thirds of carers with debts for overpayments over £2,500 caused by failing to correctly declare their earnings would have had their overpayments stopped earlier if there were sufficient staff. The Department has decided not to investigate all of the remaining cases flagged under previous systems because it believes ongoing overpayments will be caught by the new systems.

The Department underestimated both staff turnover and how claims for Carer’s Allowance would increase. This led to backlogs which peaked at 52,000 unprocessed new claims in September 2017 and 104,000 unprocessed changes in circumstance in November 2018. Delays in processing claims and changes meant that overpayments were not identified in a timely manner.

The Department has recently introduced a new system that flags data matches more promptly. The Department estimates that the system will produce additional savings of £136 million by 2025-26 but has two limitations. Firstly, the new system produces many more matches which need to be investigated, which it only does manually. Secondly, the new system will not detect all overpayments. For example, where carers are no longer paid Carer’s Allowance, the system has no means of detecting historical overpayments. The Department is also currently unable to register 254,000 carers (30%) due to software issues but is trying to resolve these.

Notes for Editors

This is based on a carer who is not working, and claiming Income Support alongside Carer's Allowance, giving a total income of £109.10 a week. This excludes other benefits that are linked directly to non-general living expenses such as Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.

The NAO undertook this investigation because MPs have expressed concerns about the level of Carer's Allowance overpayments and the impact on claimants of the Department's attempts to recover them.

The Department for Work & Pensions (the Department) pays £66.15 a week in Carer's Allowance to people who earn less than £123 a week and provide at least 35 hours of care a week to someone who receives a qualifying disability benefit. In 2017-18, the Department paid £2.9 billion in Carer's Allowance to 826,000 carers. The number of people receiving Carer's Allowance has increased by 50% since 2010, in part due to the growth in the number of people receiving qualifying benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment.

Carer's Allowance is subject to overpayments and underpayments, where the claimant has received more or less than they are entitled to. This can be due to claimant fraud or error, or error by the Department, known as official error. The Department's official estimate of total overpayments in 2017-18 was £160 million (5.5% of Carer’s Allowance expenditure).
The Select Committee hearing into Carers Allowance overpayments is happening today at 9.30am.

If it's not on the Parliament TV Channel, it is definitely going to be streamed live on the internet, on this link:

https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/8 ... 583588e5a4
Thanks Simon.

A lot of hot air and ... little comfort for the victims ?

Probably more concerned about lack of procedures than the purge itself ?
I've got confidence in Frank Field, he knows the score. There's a good article about this stuff in the latest issue of Private Eye today too, page 39 "Care in Crisis". Unfortunately, it's not on the internet, but I'll try and transcribe it later.
Thanks Simon.

Time to brew a mug of oxo , sit back , and enjoy the ... pantomime ?

The Eye ?

Noted ... I surf in daily for anything related to CarerLand ... shame only some stuff is available online.

No Reds have visited the forum so far this morning.

Probably all huddled around the tv in CUK hq waiting for the big event.

( Frank will be in a good mood ... Tranmere reached the League 2 play off final ! )
70 posts