The Work and Pensions Select Committee have said that they believe ministers are bullying carers who have made honest mistakes when receiving carer’s allowance.
In April, the National Audit Office found that thousands of carers had accidentally been overpaid on their Carer’s Allowance due to the DWP failing to spot these errors.
Carer’s Allowance is a benefit someone can claim if they care for one person for 35 hours or more a week, and earn less than £116/week after taxes, care costs, and 50% of what you pay into your pension.
You can view the full eligibility requirements in our full guide to carer’s allowance and other benefits.
Recently, it was revealed that problems within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) meant there was a failure to spot overpayments, which are now being recovered by the government.
The MP committee has claimed that the government are bullying carers by pursuing the overpayments.
Frank Field, chair of the committee, stated that “bullying carers is no way to recognise, much less support, the invaluable contribution they make to our society and the people they care for”.
The DWP ignored concerns that they were failing to spot overpayments for years, resulting in an estimated two-thirds of carers now having debts for overpayments over £2,500.
The National Audit Office found the DWP was aiming to recoup overpayments from 80,000 people, worth about £150m. Reporting on this crisis, the BBC report that “most debts are for less than £1,000 but some people owe more than £20,000.”
Director of policy and public affairs at Carers UK, Emily Holzhausen, has also commented on this, stating that the people impacted by overpayments are already struggling financially and under considerable stress. She urged the department to consider writing off overpayments rather than pursuing them.
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