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DWP - DEA (Direct Earnings Attachment) Threat for Disputed Debt

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Hi there,

 

For years now, I've been receiving the same letter from the DWP.

 

 

A vaguely-worded affair, it always tells me I owe the grand sum of £60 to them and to pay up.

 

 

This usually results in a written response from myself, highlighting that I have no idea where this 'debt' is from and could someone shed some light on the subject.

Nobody ever can.

 

 

One year, I ignored the letter and ended up getting chased by a DCA, who soon passed the case back to the DWP because they couldn't tell me what the debt was for either.

 

This happens every couple of years.

I presume my complaints expire on their system and the DWP2000 Letter Machine starts the process again.

 

Yesterday a letter popped through my door,

but it would seem the laws have changed since our last correspondence (because we have a Tory government and that's the kind of nonsense they pull).

 

 

It appears that, despite having no evidence of this debt, they can just go to my employer and take it from my salary. No court needed! No ethics needed either, I would seem. Wow.

 

I've already put together a complaints letter the the Debt Management team, and filled out the SAR (just need to find someone with a printer as heaven forbid the DWP realises it's 2017 and starts dealing with emails).

 

I should emphasise, £60 isn't a big deal, if I owed such a debt I would have no problem paying it. The fact is that I don't have any idea what this is for and nobody at the DWP ever tells me. If they had a case against me for it, they would have taken the money via the courts before the law changed, no?

 

Thanks for reading, is the SAR and complaint enough or is there something else I can do?

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£60 sounds like it could be an overpayment of benefits. Have you ever made a benefits claim, and if so, how long ago ?


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is the SAR and complaint enough or is there something else I can do?

 

Get onto your local MPand have them explain the actions of their department.


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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£60 sounds like it could be an overpayment of benefits. Have you ever made a benefits claim, and if so, how long ago ?

 

I was on JSA in (I think) 2008. I had a job secured starting in July, and I had a few months with no temp work. I'm sure this was all levelled though and the DWP will never tell me what the debt is about. The letters just say 'you owe £60, pay it" with no indication of where this debt is from.

 

I've contacted them numerous times over the years, they appear to have a record that I owe them £60, but no record of the how and why.

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Minor update, SAR and complaint fired off via recorded post. Crazy that I can't email these things in this day and age!

 

Will let you know if I get a response.

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Still waiting for a response. Everything sent via recorded delivery earlier this week.

 

I would presume the chances of them ignoring both complaint and SAR and just going straight for the DEA are high?

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You wont even get a response this soon. It will be a few weeks yet.


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SAR is 40 days, so you have a while to wait for that, complaints can take up to 8 (eight) weeks, you won't rush them nor can you.

 

You've sent them, see if they have received them, and then sit it out and wait for their response, nothing you can do unfortunately.


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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You wont even get a response this soon. It will be a few weeks yet.

 

The DWP isn't the quickest of organisations. Even so, they are legally required to fulfill a subject access request within 40 days. If they can collate the requested data without difficulty, I would expect a response by the end of March.


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OK, I have an update.

 

I've received part of my SAR - 'social fund'. Apparently in April 2008, when I began a three month stint on JSA before starting the job I've had to this day in July, I took out a £60 crisis loan. I honestly have no recollection of this, but there's a signed contract and it's my signature.

 

Where this document has been when i've requested it before is anyone's guess.

 

However...

 

On the signed document for the £60 it clearly states in bold black print that £4.85 will be taken from my JSA weekly going forward. As noted above, I was claiming JSA for approx three months. This means the debt should have been cleared, or at the very least be only left with a few pounds.

 

All I can do now is wait for the JSA part of the SAR to find out what happened to the reclaimed weekly deductions.

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This morning I received a letter stating the DWP is going for the DEA with my employer. I'm disgusted that they would do this while the debt is in dispute and I'm still missing most of my SAR.

 

I immediately phoned their call centre, they confirmed they received my complaint but - get this - they forwarded it to a different department. I'm expecting a call back this afternoon from a 'line manager'.

 

Assuming the JSA SAR ever appears, and it shows I've repaid all or most of this £60, what are my rights?

 

This is what happens when you remove people's rights from the equation. If the courts were in the mix they would never behave like this.

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Additional update:

 

I had a call back from the line manager.

 

Apparently nobody can confirm they've received the written formal complaint, but it's possible it hasn't been processed yet. This letter was sent just under a month ago, to the address on the letter. The letter clearly stated they needed a response to halt action... but their internal systems are so useless they can't open a letter in time... but can still process a DEA with little bother.

 

Anyway, he told me I need to phone the Social Fund department... and then write to them again. If the money does get taken and it transpires i paid it they claim they'll refund. Why the original letter didn't tell me to direct issues towards the Social Fund department is anyone's guess. Unfortunately I won't be able to slap a court-free DEA on the DWP's salary for it.

 

"Sir, you spoke to us on the phone 3 years ago and we told you the money was owed". "Ok, but I wanted proof it was owed. You never provided it, just threw vaguley worded demands for £60 at me"

 

It's like banging my head against a brick wall. I'm thankful it's only £60 and not thousands.

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The DWP has the power to recover benefit overpayments and Social Fund loans direct from your wages. This is called a Direct Earnings Attachment and can be done without a court order.

 

The DWP have said that they will only use this method when people don't get in touch or are unwilling to agree a recovery plan. The amount the employer must take out of your wages depends upon your weekly or monthly income, but normally is not more than 20% of your net earnings.

 

Your net earnings are your wages after income tax, National Insurance contributions and pension payment have been taken out. If you have been found guilty of an offence, the amount taken can be doubled to a maximum of 40% of your net earnings. But if other amounts are being taken from your earnings at the same time, the deduction should be reduced so that you should not be left with less than 60% of your net earnings.

 

Regards

 

Andy


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Thanks Andy,

 

As noted above this isn't a colossal debt by any stretch, it's just in dispute as it should be repaid. The line manager admitted that it was possible the money was taken from the JSA payments but not forwarded to the social fund.

 

I tried to access bank statements from 2008 but unfortunately my internet banking statements don't go back that far - therefore my JSA SAR should disclose whether or not the weekly repayment was deducted at the time.

 

Of course (noting your bold print) I have communicated with them every time this 'debt' has come up, including immediately by post/first class recorded this time around. They chose to ignore my communication and go ahead with the DEA because in their words 'we're just debt management we don't deal with that kind of thing' in regards to a formal complaint. The DWP departments are incapable of dealing with each other and actively block communication via email for no justifiable reason.

 

The clock is ticking on the missing part of the SAR - particularly the JSA section. If they are unable to disclose whether or not the repayments were taken from my weekly JSA because they no longer hold the records (ridiculous when you consider they can chase debts until the end of time) then they are unable to prove I owe the money (and wide open for an ICO complaint).

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Have you made a complaint to your local MP too?


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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I haven't yet, although I will add him in during the inevitable complaints stage for then the JSA info doesn't arrive on time.

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I haven't yet, although I will add him in during the inevitable complaints stage for then the JSA info doesn't arrive on time.

 

You need to do it yesterday, you aren't playing a game with the DWP, your MP needs to be told. The more that do, then the sooner this department and it's MP's are brought to account and change is made.


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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