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ESA Overpayment due to their delay implementing changes

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I got a letter a few weeks ago to say I have been overpaid ESA by £68 and that it had to be repaid. The letter stated that this was due to a change in my occupational pension in April last year, which they weren't made aware of until September last year. That all sounds pretty reasonable. Until you know the full story.

 

So I was pensioned off from my job in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) due to ill health (life changing injuries in a motorcycle accident to be precise) and I get a monthly pension from the NICS. If a payrise is given to staff at my grade, my pension increases pro rata. And as my pension is below the ESA threshold, I get ESA to make up the difference. Each time thsi happens, and as both pension and ESA are paid by NICS departments, ESA find out about this before me, and send me a letter asking either for the details of the rise, or if I haven't yet gotten the rise, permission to contact my pension provider to get the details. And that is what happened last year.

 

ESA wrote to me in May last year asking for details of a rise in my pension I wasn't yet aware of. So I wrote back to them giving permission for them to contact my pension provider to get the details. And the matter was then out of my hands. Then fast forward to mid -August this year when I was informed of the overpayment.

 

I rang ESA to find out what had happened to create the overpayment. The young guy I spoke to told me that, after they had gotten my permission to contact my pension provider in May, they received the information from the pension provider in June. It then sat in a pile and wasn't actioned until September. He went on to tell me to ask for a mandatory reconsideration (yeah, one of those with a success rate of about 0%). So I rang the relevant team and asked for this reconsideration 2 weeks ago.

 

Then I received a letter from them yesterday to say they were scheduling the repayment at £11-odds a week until its paid off. I also received a text from them to say they had received the reconsideration request and they will inform me of their decision in due course. And another letter arrived today from their debt recovery team to say they will be taking the repayments from my benefit.

 

So thats where we're at now. I'm sorry for making this so long-winded but I wanted to include as much information about it as possible. However, I feel that this is totally unfair as the overpayment wouldn't have occurred only for their inaction. Is there anything I can do about this to have the overpayment written off, or at least scheduled that they're not taking a 3rd of my weekly benefit at a time?

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If unhappy with the MR  you can escalate it upstairs, Think Unclebulgaria is the one who will know.  Might be worth writing to your MP outlining the DWP muppetry.  Lots of similar issues with Universal credit, and departments like ESA and carers not providing information on time. You can compose the letter online at www.writetothem.com. 

 

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"However, I feel that this is totally unfair as the overpayment wouldn't have occurred only for their inaction. Is there anything I can do about this to have the overpayment written off, or at least scheduled that they're not taking a 3rd of my weekly benefit at a time? "

 

From what I understand, as long as there was an overpayment of benefit, it is always recoverable and it is then a question of negotiating with DWP debt management or department making the deductions.  If the deductions are causing you hardship, you can simply call and state your hardship issues, requesting a smaller deduction each month.  They might want you to explain the consequences of the deductions being made e.g. essentials you have no money to pay for. Work out the deductions amount you could afford and ask them to consider this. 

 

 


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1 hour ago, unclebulgaria67 said:

"However, I feel that this is totally unfair as the overpayment wouldn't have occurred only for their inaction. Is there anything I can do about this to have the overpayment written off, or at least scheduled that they're not taking a 3rd of my weekly benefit at a time? "

 

From what I understand, as long as there was an overpayment of benefit, it is always recoverable and it is then a question of negotiating with DWP debt management or department making the deductions.  If the deductions are causing you hardship, you can simply call and state your hardship issues, requesting a smaller deduction each month.  They might want you to explain the consequences of the deductions being made e.g. essentials you have no money to pay for. Work out the deductions amount you could afford and ask them to consider this. 

 

 

I told the guy I was speaking to that I would have had no problem with the overpayment, only the original letter was worded in such a way that I was the one who had caused it by not supplying the information. If they apologised and said that it had happened due to an error on their behalf that would have been fine. And I would have had no problem discussing a payment reschedule. But again, that was imposed on me on their terms, and without waiting to see if the reconsideration was successful. Riding roughshod over the vulnerable in society as usual.

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DWP letters are standardised, as you probably realise. A way of controlling the content of letters going out, even if the exact situation is not really suitably covered by the letter.

 

If you feel strongly enough, you could raise a complaint, but you should question whether you would be satisfied with the response.  If they believe it is just standard process being followed, they will just confirm information you already know.

 

 


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The standard letters could be revised and a better one for bereavement for  couples claiming UC created to avoid foot in mouth disease, and bad publicity like this:

 

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/widow-32-gets-dwp-letter-18779905


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If this is old style ESA, then if it's official error, caused by the DWP, then the OP would normally get written, however not sure how that works in NI as they have slighlty different regulations.

 

Worth a check though.

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Just a quick update to close the topic.

 

I submitted the a for a statutory reconsideration, as advised. And a couple of days ago I received a letter saying I would no longer be required to repay the amount overpaid "due to a change in circumstances". The letter doesn't say what the change in my circumstances is. So its a win on that front. However, it is pathetic that they can't, or aren't allowed to, admit they were responsible for the events which led to the overpayment in the first place.

 

Many thanks to everyone who responded to the original post.

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