DWP orders mum who cares for disabled daughter to repay £14,000

A carer for her disabled daughter has been warned she owes the Department for Work and Pensions £14,000. The Government is pursuing around 134,000 carers for money that has been erroneously overpaid to them with some chased for as much as £20k.

One mum, who cares for her daughter who has cerebral palsy, was ordered to repay £14,460 to the DWP, which she had received as carer’s allowance over a period of eight years from 2002 to 2010, the I reported. She said: “Hand on heart, I don’t know how it happened.

"I couldn’t sleep when I started getting those letters. It was awful, the stress of it. I had other things on my mind with my daughter. She had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and I had to put that to the back of my mind.” She went on: “This is a cloud hanging over my head. I’ve never been in debt, never owed anyone a penny. I don’t even have credit cards or an overdraft.

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Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “Case after case is coming to light where carers have experienced overpayments of carer’s allowance and each tells a tale of how they could potentially have been prevented had they realised earlier. It’s clear that they are exhausted, confused by an over-complex system, and are feeling incredibly let down.

“This is made all the worse knowing that they are paying back an astounding £251m in overpayments. Given what they do for society, which is valued at a staggering £162bn a year – the equivalent of a second NHS – we need to see more change. We must have an urgent review of the eligibility criteria for carer’s allowance.

“Government has said that they are looking into texting and emailing carers to alert them – which we’ve welcomed. The question now is when will this happen? Carers need assurances that they are not going to wait nearly half a decade again for change.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “Carers across the UK are unsung heroes who make a huge difference to someone else’s life and we have increased carer’s allowance by almost £1,500 since 2010. We are progressing an enhanced notification strategy as part of our ongoing commitment to customer engagement, which will help ensure customers fulfil their obligations to inform DWP when changes in their circumstances have occurred, building on existing communications.

“We are committed to fairness in the welfare system, with safeguards in place for managing repayments, while protecting the public purse.”