DWP demands man pay back 2p debt or risk legal action

·2-min read
Damien Dove with a DWP letter demanding he repay a 2p debt - Iain Buist/NCJ Media
Damien Dove with a DWP letter demanding he repay a 2p debt - Iain Buist/NCJ Media

A security guard has described the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as “pathetic” after it sent him a letter demanding he repay a 2p debt or risk action being taken against him.

Damien Dove received a letter from the DWP this week informing him he owed the sum after being overpaid for housing benefit.

Mr Dove, from West Rainton in County Durham, says he claimed the benefit once, more than three years ago, when he was on a low income and needed help to pay his rent.

He told the Chronicle: “I thought it was a joke until I contacted them. It would have cost them more to send me out the letter.

“They were quite serious about it over the phone and it says in the letter that further action will now be taken if I don’t pay.”

The letter from the DWP informed Mr Dove that he had until August 29 to pay his debt or the government department would “consider taking further action”.

The letter offered him the chance to pay the outstanding sum back in instalments if he could not “make the payment in full”.

Mr Dove said: “It just surprised me when I opened the letter and I was asking, ‘Are these people having a laugh?’ I have never known anyone get a letter demanding 2p, it’s just ridiculous.

“I think it’s pathetic. I haven’t collected social security for at least ten years, I’ve worked all my life, near enough, apart from a few months, and basically I’m getting penalised doing this for collecting a benefit for one week.”

A DWP spokesman said in a statement to the Chronicle: “This was a debt owing to Mr Dove’s local authority.

“Regulations require us to recover such debts when requested to do so and the automated nature of our systems [meant] the notification was generated without agent input.

“We supported Mr Dove, whose chosen payment method would’ve incurred a charge, by suggesting a free alternative.”