DWP orders mum to pay back £1.6k from disabled son's care bill

Elizabeth had to repay £1,600 back to the DWP -Credit:Good Morning Britain
Elizabeth had to repay £1,600 back to the DWP -Credit:Good Morning Britain

A single mother was forced to repay £1,620 she received for caring for her disabled son. Elizabeth, a full-time carer to son Oliver, 20, repaid the sum to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Elizabeth claims Carer's Allowance to help her cope financially as she cares for Oliver, who has Down's Syndrome. The DWP demanded she return the sum after she exceeded the working limit for the benefit.

Elizabeth's story is just one of thousands which have come to light over recent weeks. Around 34,000 Carer's Allowance claimants received fines of up to £20,000 and had to repay their benefits for breaching the earning threshold, the Mirror reports.

Elizabeth was forced to find shifts as a supply teacher when her late husband David was diagnosed with cancer and became too ill to work. Elizabeth cared for both Oliver and her husband David, until he died in 2018.

Elizabeth believed she stayed within the earnings threshold set by the DWP at this time but she was shocked when she was informed she had exceeded it.

She told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "It was just so hard, I had to earn money to help our family and to be hit with that bill was just awful. There is no compassion, and I think that is where the issue is. It is just 'you owe this money, you must pay this back', there is no consideration for your circumstances."

Carer's allowance is paid to those providing at least 35 hours of unpaid care a week to someone else. Currently, it's paid at a weekly rate of £81.90 and you can have a job alongside claiming. However, under the current rules, while claiming you can only earn £151 a week after tax, National Insurance, pension contributions and allowable expenses. If your earnings go over the limit - even by just 1p or by accident - you lose your entire entitlement. This is a different approach to other benefits, like Universal Credit, which has a tapered approach to earnings so that those who do work don't lose all of their money at once, they instead are paid less.

Speaking on the ITV show, Elizabeth shared how she is now no longer allowed to claim Carer's Allowance even though she still provides full time care to her son Oliver. She said: "I am so terrified now, I am not allowed Carer's Allowance. I have received two letters from the DWP, one saying that I do not provide 33 hours of care and the other saying that I am working, but I work for myself, it is the only way that I can work.

"We have an adult social care system which is in crisis, health care is in crisis. I am not just a single carer, there is a whole army of single carers out there. My life is not tragic, it is full of love and I care because I love my son and I would do anything to help him."

On the issue, a DWP previously spokesperson told the Mirror: “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. Our most recent statistics show that Carer’s Allowance overpayments relating to earnings represents just 2.1% of the £3.3 billion we spend supporting those who look after loved ones. Claimants have a responsibility to inform DWP of any changes in their circumstances that could impact their award, and with safeguards in place to manage repayments, this ensures fairness in our welfare system.”

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