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Thread: overpayment of benefits....can they make you pay if it wasnt your fault ?

  1. #1

    overpayment of benefits....can they make you pay if it wasnt your fault ?

    Hi everyone, I'm trying to find a statement which used to appear on the Gov.uk website but now appears to have been removed. Back in 2016 we were overpaid in our housing benefit by £300, our local Council were very unreasonable about the repayments we should make so I did some research and found this on the Gov,uk website, this is a direct quote that I used at the time.....

    "You’ll have to pay money back if the benefit overpayment was your fault, eg:
    the information you gave was wrong
    you didn’t report a change in your circumstances
    you gave the wrong information when you reported a change of circumstances
    there was an administrative mistake but you should have noticed the overpayment, eg you received 2 payments instead of one"

    We had done everything possible to keep things right and had done none of the above. So armed with this I took on the Council and proved it was their mistake, they backed down and wrote off the money.

    2 years later my Daughter had a similar problem with HMRC and used the above quote, they back down and apologised, they also wrote off the money.

    I remember reading at the time that in UK Law you cant be held responsible for the mistakes of others so long as there was no deception or oversight on your part (I cant find this now either).

    So I'm wondering, has the Law been changed ? or does this still apply ?

  2. #2
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    The law has been changed.

    With Universal Credit they can now take back UC overpayments no matter what the reason for overpayment was, you error or theirs.

    They are (sneakily in most peoples view) using this to take back overpayments of previous benefits from those now on UC. (In some reported cases even where it was previously shown to be non-recoverable).

    Obviously there is some debate about the legality of this, but until someone gets it to the High Court for a ruling they are going to keep doing it.
    Here's a thread from rightsnet: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/13877

    This is what the DWP work to (it's a bit long and wordy) and of course it's their own guidance and not the law.
    The problem being that the DWP take their own guidance as being law until a court tells them that it isn't and they have to stop.
    https://assets.publishing.service.go...very-guide.pdf

    On a related note, here's an article from todays Guardian that suggests the DWP should pay claimants compensation when they make an error with UC:
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/...says-thinktank
    Don't hold your breath.
    Last edited by nukecad; 11-03-19 at 16:48.
    I don't know everything. - But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.

    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here for information.

  3. #3
    Thank you nukecad, very interesting, as always if the game isn't going their way they change the rules. I might drop them a FOI request asking if the original Legislation has been changed and what the Law says about debts caused by another party. As you say, the over-payment recovery guide is just that, a guide. Lets hope it gets challenged soon.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    The original legislation hasn't been changed (as far as I can see).

    But UC is new legiation that changed things.
    Maybe fair enough?

    But applying new legislation to old situations has always been a 'not allowed' in the law. (At least in this country).
    It's always been a principle of our laws that they cannot be applied retrospectively.

    Good luck with the FoI, I guess you know the fun with those.
    Last edited by nukecad; 11-03-19 at 20:32.
    I don't know everything. - But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.

    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here for information.

  5. #5
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    My sister is having to pay back £4,000 of housing benefit overpayment that wasn't her fault when she got at first she called a few times and asked them a few if it was mistake but they just kept saying no she was entitled to it.

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