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

All about money
66 posts
Well ... edited highlights will be made available.

Don't blink ... all of 5 seconds !!!
This is the article about Carers Allowance overpayments in the current issue of Private Eye (page 39 if you're looking for it in the actual magazine!)

Dire DWP

The incompetence of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in saddling tens of thousands of hard-pushed carers with huge benefit debts was exposed in grim detail in a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) last month.

To qualify for a meagre £66.15 per week to provide care for an elderly or disabled loved one, carers must provide at least 35 hours per week support and not earn a penny more than £123. That's not always easy to monitor for those on zero-hours contracts or in other irregular work, whose income varies from week to week - and nor is it properly explained to claimants.

In addition, a new government IT system designed to flag up overpayments early on backfired spectacularly because the DWP didn't have enough staff to investigate the highlighted cases. As a result, some overpayments went unnoticed for years. The NAO report found that if the DWP had deployed just 40 extra staff between 2011 and 2018 - at a cost of less than £1m a year - it could have stopped two-thirds of overpayments and saved taxpayers at least £30m a year (£210m over the 7 years).

Worse, the NAO found that back in 2010, senior DWP managers had ignored warnings from a whistleblower of staff shortages and the burgeoning problems. The whistleblower also alerted two DWP Permanent Secretaries and, more recently, the former minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton. Despite warnings the system was failing carers, the DWP still pursued criminal cases for fraud against some of them - most genuinely unaware that they were "overclaiming".

The NAO report showed that DWP either prosecuted or imposed administrative penalties - fines of up to £5000 on top of clawing back any overpayment - on at least 1600 carers a year in each of the past 5 years. Some families, already in dire financial straits, now face years of debt repayments they can barely meet.

The report also says the DWP's uselessness led to huge backlogs of new claims and changes in circumstances running out of control in recent years, peaking at 52,000 outstanding new claims in September 2017 and 104,000 changes in circumstance in November 2018.

The Civil Servants who have tricky questions to answer when MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee start to scrutinise Carer's Allowance this week include Graeme Wallace, since 2013 the DWP's Director of Retirement Services, which includes Carer's Allowance. Wallace was awarded a CBE for "services to welfare reform and pensioners" in the 2017 New Year's Honours. Another is Richard Cornish, who's in charge of counter-fraud, compliance and debt since 2017 - though he may just have escaped in time to join Natural England as chief operating officer next month.

Whoever carries the can should expect a roasting, Frank Field, the committee chair, has already made clear his views on DWP bungling and "its stark human cost" He said " Not for the first time, we see DWP squeezing those least able to afford it. It will chase down carers who provide such and immense service to our society, potentially cutting their income for decades - when it knows that a large part of the responsibility lies squarely at its own door."
Thanks Simon.

( Looks like just you and me as custodians of this one ? )

Odd ... not as " Cutting " as I would have expected from The Eye.

Oh well , even the mysteries of the DWP are not as eye catching as other sectors on The Eye's radar.

Just ask Jeremy Hunt ... and his troubles with the doctors !
The Select Committee hearing was also mentioned briefly in the political sketch in The Times today:

"Down at the Work and Pensions Select Committee, senior civil servants tried to explain why Whitehall was for years neglectful of overpayments in Carers Allowances'. This scandal is creating anxiety for carers who are facing repayment demands. Sir Peter Schofield, the department's permanent secretary, was accompanied by his "director general of service excellence." Such titles they give themselves.

Sir Peter was so chillaxed he sounded coldly blithe to the scandal. "It's really good to have this challenge," he murmured. "There is some challenge about the quality of communication." Asked why nothing had been done for six years - six blinking years! - after the overpayments were first reported by a whistleblower, Sir Peter said blandly that this was an example of "action through the management chain". Sir Mark Sedwill, head of the civil service, will be proud of him."
For any reader not having watch the Parliament tv broadcast ... straight faces , slight smiles.

As if they were defending leaving the cat out all night.

Concern ?

They're paid civil servants ... what else do you expect for your monies ???
A few week on and ... virtually nothing to report.

6 posters so far identified as being caught ... none have returned to let us know how they got on.

Nothing from the CUK Advice Team nor mention of the Purge in the recent benefits session on the forum.

( One poster's exchange with the CUK Advice Team ... worthy of surfing back in this thread to read ! )

Newspapers quiet ... I still trawl for anything.

( Even searched the Daily Chuckle to see if any were put on trial by them as " Benefit scroungers " who have been caught ! )

Those who know more just aren't telling.

Virtually a standard reply to anyone coming in ... CAB or CUK Advice Team / link to this thread as background.

Nothing else we can do.

Diarise forward.
66 posts