DWP demands people on benefits repay £1,800 each with letters coming | Personal Finance | Finance

The DWP is forcing more than 130,000 people to repay an average of £1,865 each after an error which caused overpayments.

Carer’s Allowance was unknowingly overpaid to carers, with a total of £250million now being urgently chased by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Currently, Carer’s Allowance pays eligible claimants a total of £81.90 a week, but a little known earnings rule has pushed 134,000 people into owing the DWP money.

It means the average carer affected by the issue owes £1,865 but some have been asked to pay back much more, with one woman sent a letter demanding £5,000 back from the DWP, forcing her to repay £245 a month, and another who owes the DWP £11,000, according to reports.

The DWP has said it is “progressing an enhanced notification strategy” to alert carers to overpayments. Those already notified have received letters from the DWP but more people are still set to receive a letter telling them how much they owe.

Under current rules, unpaid carers who look after someone for more than 35 hours per week are entitled to claim the £81.90 a week Carer’s Allowance.

But they are only eligible if they earn less than £151 net (after tax) per week. If someone’s circumstances change, such as working overtime, or getting a small payrise, they are no longer eligible and have to pay back any allowance in full.

The latest figures were released by the DWP following a question in parliament by MP Sir Stephen Timms.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the amount of Carer’s Allowance being chased “includes historical debts which the department is seeking to recover”.

It added: “In comparison, Carer’s Allowance expenditure is forecast to be £4.2 billion this year alone.

“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.”

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