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Benefit Recipients in the Tens of Thousands Face £20k Repayment Warning

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After inadvertently breaking government rules, tens of thousands of welfare recipients are receiving startling repayment requests, some of which are as high as £20,000.

After exceeding a weekly wage threshold, households that receive Carer’s Allowance—a benefit intended for individuals who provide at least 35 hours of unpaid care each week—are experiencing financial difficulties.

The current weekly maximum for Carer’s Allowance is £81.90. This allows claimants to work and earn additional income. However, the benefit is forfeited if the weekly earnings cap of £151 is exceeded.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which is in charge of distributing the allowance, aims to recoup benefits that were overpaid. However, because of system flaws, breaches can get unreported for years, burdening the affected parties with hefty reparation obligations.

26,700 caregivers were requested to refund payments connected to earnings breaches in the fiscal year 2022–2023. Remarkably, more than 800 people had debts ranging from £5,000 to £20,000, and 36 had repayments surpassing £20,000.

One moving example is the case of Vivienne Groom, who was fined £16,000 when it was discovered that she had been taking care of her mother while working at minimum wage.

Dominic Carter, the director of strategy and public affairs at Carer’s Trust, criticized the harshness of the Carer’s Allowance guidelines and denounced the pursuit of caregivers who had inadvertently overclaimed.

There are worries that the wage requirement may make things worse for caregivers who are already having financial difficulties. According to a recent DWP Family Resource Survey, 5% of homes with adult carers turned to food banks and 21% of these households had earnings below the UK average.

According to research by Carers Trust, almost two thirds of unpaid caregivers have had to cut back on their work hours as a result of the challenges they encounter, which exacerbates poverty and violates the law.

The DWP was contacted by The Sun for comment, but they have not yet responded.

How to proceed if you exceed the earnings cap:

It is advisable to notify the DWP as soon as possible if your wages surpass the £151 threshold, as this represents a change in circumstances. Your National Insurance (NI) number and the care recipient’s data are needed to complete the online reporting process on the government website.

The DWP Debt Management website must be used to repay overpaid Carer’s Allowance, either in full or in installments. If you don’t comply, there could be wage deductions or debt collection actions taken against you, which could even result in county court proceedings.

Overpayment disputes may be resolved by “mandatory reconsideration,” in which case you will need to provide proof of your claim. If the decision is not to one’s satisfaction, an appeal may be filed for additional consideration before the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.

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