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

All about money
71 posts
Another 13 days and ... still nothing posted anywhere , even on the local news sites I trawl through daily.

Would be " Nice " if the CUK Advice Team tipped us off as to their experiences.

Would help with any coming in through the Forum or ... should we send virtually everything that has an hint of a
DWP problem upstairs ?

Hello ... Forum advice team calling the CUK advice team ... hello ...
5 months in and ... 4 potential cases posted on the forum.

No further news , nor has CUK elected to keep US advised of any developments ... either in the cases refered to their advice
team or any discussions with the DWP.

We are still very much in the dark ... as we are in virtually all other ongoing matters.
Now 6 months in and ... 4 forum postings from readers caught by the DWP net and ... not a word on the Internet nor
any feedback from the Carers Uk Advice Team.

So ... we can only ponder on what's really happening out there ... as we need to do in the absence of any third party
posting anything of interest to us ... either elsewhere on this site or on the Internet.
Not good news unearthed ... a snippet from the Independent :
The DWP said 69,609 people could be asked to repay money through deductions from their benefits.

Reports suggest 1,000 of them may be prosecuted, while up to 10,000 could be forced to pay fines of up to £5,000.

The only figures reported ... so far.
The National Audit Office report into Carers Allowance overpayments was published today, there's an article in the Guardian about it here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... nefit-debt.

The links to the report are here, report : https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploa ... owance.pdf and the summary : https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploa ... ummary.pdf

The report makes it clear that DWP didn't put enough staff on checking Carers Allowance claimants' earnings with HMRC. Between 2014 and 2018 they only checked about 10% of the data matches they received. Consequently the claimants who were not picked up on the data-matching who were allowed to rack up large overpayments.

From the report: "The Department’s internal audit team found that around two-thirds of carers with
debts over £2,500 for overpayments relating to a failure to correctly report earnings would
have had their overpayments stopped earlier if the Department had put in place sufficient
staff to effectively investigate all matches identified by its data matching systems."

The report also shows that DWP either prosecuted or gave administrative penalties (fines of an extra 50% of the overpayment, which they offer to claimants accused of fraud instead of prosecuting them) to over 1700 carers in 2018. I don't see how DWP can continue to use these additional punishments when their own internal audit has admitted that DWP themselves have allowed these overpayments to run on. It even shows that an internal whistleblower told them about this as early as Feb 2016. I think Carers UK should have a look at this and see if anything can be done legally.

Frank Field in the Guardian article:

Frank Field MP, chair of the work and pensions committee, said the report “devastatingly laid bare the incompetence at DWP, and its stark human cost”.
“There was already plenty wrong with the way we recognise carers’ invaluable contribution. Rather than making things worse, why doesn’t the department just spare us all: end this massive scandal, focus on the real fraudsters and write off the overpayments it has allowed to build up unchecked.”
Cheers Simon ... The Guardian still 5 bookmarks away as I type ... will add to the main Purge thread within the next half hour.

CUK challenging the findings through legal angles ?

A charity ???
Why don't they just pay CA to EVERYONE who cares for 35 hours a week, and let them keep it if they get a second job, like everyone else who gets a second job.
Even better, why don't they just recognise CARING IS WORK. After all, if we don't do it for our pittance, someone else does it for at least the minimum wage. So why not pay us the minimum age for all the care we provide.
The current rate is £8.25 an hour, I've just checked. £8.25 x 35= £287.35.
£8.25 x 168 hours, i.e. 24/7 care, equates to £1,386 a week. That will do nicely.
No it won't, there's the Working Hours Directive to consider. I don't think we are supposed to work more than 48 hours a week!

48 x £8.25 = £396.

Then the government would have to find other paid carers for the other 120 hours. That would cost £990 a week.

I'm really fed up with "trying to get carers into work" when they have to already work 35 hours to get CA.
If you take the Working Hours Directive of 48 hours a week, that means that anyone wanting to do a second job on top should only legally work for 13 hours.

Carers UK should NOT be supporting the government initiative to get more carers into work, they should be campaigning for the work we are already doing, caring for the elderly, sick and disabled, to be recognised for the work it is.

It's the SAME JOB after all, whether done by a paid carer or a relative.

Right, I'll jump off my soapbox now!!!!
Picked up by Simon , here's the full article :

DWP staff problems leave carers with years of overpaid benefit debt.

NAO finds many overpayments lasted decades, with at least 133 carers now owing up to £20,000.

Staff shortages at the Department for Work and Pensions have led to thousands of carers being overpaid benefits that they could be repaying for years, a report by the government’s spending watchdog has found.

In some cases, carers face repaying more than £20,000 they received in error, a task that could take 34 years, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.

In 2018-19, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) detected 93,000 overpayments of carer’s allowance, compared with an average of 41,000 a year in the previous five years. The NAO said the department was detecting “significantly more” overpayments because it had recently put in place more people and new systems.

While many overpayments were for just one week, some went on for more than a decade before they were discovered. At the end of March, 133 people owed more than £20,000.

Frank Field MP, chair of the work and pensions committee, said the report “devastatingly laid bare the incompetence at DWP, and its stark human cost”.

Carer’s allowance, now worth £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 carers do not always realise that the sum they receive is linked to their earnings, and that if they take home more than £123 a week the allowance stops, or that studying more than 21 hours a week is a bar to claiming.

Carers have to give details of their earnings when they apply, but can be caught out when their circumstances change.

The NAO found that staff shortages meant that many people who had notified DWP about changing circumstances had not had their details processed.

In November 2018, the department had 104,000 unprocessed change in circumstances notifications. It said that these delays meant that overpayments had not been dealt with in a timely manner.

Overpayments are clawed back through lower benefits and deductions from earnings, and the NAO said that while on average it would take a carer just over three years to clear their debt, those owing £20,000 could be making repayments for the next 34 years.

The NAO’s investigation followed the Guardian’s revelation that a growing number of carers were facing fines and prosecutions as DWP sought to claw back overpayments.

Emily Holzhausen, director of policy and public affairs at Carers UK, said overpayments had caused a lot of stress.

“It is clear the DWP’s decisions about the handling of carer’s allowance have resulted in carers not being told about overpayments quickly enough and this must be urgently addressed,” she added.

A DWP spokesman said the report recognised the progress it had made in addressing overpayments. “We have introduced new technology to prevent overpayments and improve debt recovery. And we continue to make people fully aware of their responsibility to correctly report earnings and changes of circumstances.

“We have a duty to the taxpayer to recover money in cases of fraud or error but safeguards are in place to ensure deductions are reasonable.”

Field said: “There was already plenty wrong with the way we recognise carers’ invaluable contribution. Rather than making things worse, why doesn’t the department just spare us all: end this massive scandal, focus on the real fraudsters and write off the overpayments it has allowed to build up unchecked.”

Well ... at least we have the attention of both the House and the DWP ... for the wrong reason.

Obviously , there are some " Chancers " within the figures but ... of no comfort for those who are innocent.

Time to use this debacle to our advantage.

Question now to ask is ... how ?

CUK's hands are tied through their charity status.

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/social-a ... view-29648

Down to the mps to take up the baton on OUR behalf.

Unless , of course , a few carers want to emulate their disabled colleagues and launch a lawsuit ???
Interesting snippet from a similar article in today's Birmimgham Mail :

What the NAO say

The NAO said: "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 will not normally write-off this debt until it is repaid, the NAO's report said.

The DWP reclaimed £22 million of overpaid Carer's Allowance in 2018-19 by reducing people's benefits and through mandatory deductions from employee earnings.

The NAO said: "The Department does not know how these repayments affect carers or the disabled person they care for."

The NAO also said the DWP has a "limited understanding of underlying rates of fraud and error".

The watchdog said it 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 DWP with correct information about their earnings, the NAO said.

It said misunderstanding the rules around earnings and expenses can lead to carers accidentally accruing overpayments, while few overpayments are proven fraud.

( Confirms what I said in the very first posting ! )

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.

To reduce fraud and error in the Carer's Allowance, the DWP matches up claims with earnings data provided by employers to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Since 2010 the various ministers against the disabled have spent millions and millions of pounds ,don't see anyone chasing them to pay it back .
71 posts