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Chasing Debts from Heroes: UK Carers Owed Over £251 Million in Overpayments Amid Urgent Calls for Reform



Calls for Government Action as DWP Seeks £251m in Overpaid Carer's Allowance

Authorities are being called upon to address the issue promptly, given its impact on driving some of the most financially vulnerable families into significant debt. Meanwhile, a government agency reports that it is developing a better communication plan to notify individuals.

Sunday, May 19, 2024, at 4

The government is reclaiming £251 million from unpaid carers who inadvertently exceeded the income limit for receiving benefits.

Approximately 135,000 caregivers, often celebrated by officials as "unsung heroes," are currently facing demands to repay excess carer's allowance funds, with the majority being women.

The most recent statistics, disclosed in a written response during a parliamentary session, arrive as officials face pressure to effectively manage the issue that has caused numerous low-income families to accumulate significant debts.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that it is advancing a more robust strategy to improve notifications for carers.

Exceeding the weekly earnings threshold of £151 by just £1 results in carers forfeiting the entire £81.90 benefit, which they must then repay completely.

In 2019, Members of Parliament cautioned that there was a need for a new method to handle overpayment debts and stated that harassing carers was not an appropriate way to acknowledge their crucial role in society.

It is estimated that unpaid caregivers save the UK economy £160 billion annually.

A research report from the Department for Work and Pensions, authored in 2021 but released this week, indicates that 3% of the claimants sampled were overpaid for their carer's allowance.

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Sir Stephen Timms, who leads the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, criticized the government for permitting numerous unpaid carers to accumulate substantial debts, despite being aware of the problem for a long time.

Stay informed on all the recent developments both in the UK and internationally by tuning into Sky News.

Sir Stephen stated, "It is crucial that the DWP acts immediately to address this issue and prevent the undue stress that these overpayments inflict on carers."

In addition to the issues of excessive payments, it has been reported that the amount provided by the carer's allowance is insufficient for many, making it difficult for them to cover their basic expenses.

"The authorities ought to ensure that unpaid caregivers are recognized and compensated in a manner that adequately covers the cost of living."

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A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions stated, "The sum of overpayments on carer's allowance encompasses old debts that the department is attempting to reclaim.

Projected spending on carer's allowance is expected to reach £4.2 billion for this year.

"We are advancing an improved notification approach in line with our continuous dedication to engaging with our customers. This initiative will assist in ensuring that customers meet their responsibilities to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about any changes in their situations, enhancing our current communication methods."

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