According to a recent report from Child Poverty Action Group CPAG) claimants are being forced to repay their full Universal Credit (UC) award despite being entitled to it.
Why Are The DWP doing this?
During the pandemic the DWP temporarily changed some of the evidence rules to complete UC claims.
As detailed in the report by CPAG in January 2021 the DWP started to look into the claims that were made during the pandemic.
Whilst doing this the DWP have been changing the entitlement decisions given to claimants declaring that many claims have been wrongfully awarded.
Why This Shouldn’t Be Happening
CPAG have expressed their concerns that the process of retrospectively deciding claimants were not entitled to UC and beginning recovery is unlawful.
In addition, the DWP is asking for evidence of entitlement via the online journal, even from claimants that are no longer getting UC and would have no reason to check their journal.
Some claimants only find out about the alleged overpayment when they receive a letter from DWP Debt Management.
They therefore miss the one month deadline for challenging a decision and often don’t know that they could make a late challenge if they have good cause.
Shockingly, this process is set to be ramped up dramatically.
The DWPs Reaction
The DWP are employing a team of 2,000 staff to look again at 2 million claims over the next five years including, but not limited to, claims made during the pandemic.
The thought that a government department that tramples on claimants’ rights in this way is to be given powers of search, seizure and arrest, as revealed in our last newsletter, is truly frightening.
It’s very concerning that the government gives the DWP the authority to stamp on a person’s legal rights in this manner.
Not only are they able to stop a claimants payments without any notice they are also set to be given powers of search, seizure and arrest, as detailed in an earlier blog post.
DWP decisions such as these are life changing and literally leave people without the ability to eat, pay their rent and to keep warm.
Combined with this is the mental toll that this puts upon claimants leaving them in a state of distress not knowing where to get help.
Claimants deserve to be treated with respect and should be given the right to reply before any permanent decisions are made by the DWP.
Not only is it morally wrong to change decisions retrospectively, moving the goalposts when it suits the DWP is despicable and should be challenged at all times.
You can find the full copy of the report here https://cpag.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/briefing/demands-repay-impact-and-legality-dwp-reverification-uc-claims
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