DWP and their targets


S

Simon

Back in 1988, the then DHSS decided that they had overpaid my late
father by over £7000. His pension was cut to a mere £9.90 per week.
Soon after this he died.

My mother (then 65) agreed to pay the amount owing back at the £8.00
per month she could afford. She has been paying this back over the
last 18 years.

Then, out of the blue, she receives a letter from the DWP saying that
they are going to take £30.00 per WEEK off her state pension and
attendance allowance. I completed an income expenditure sheet for her,
made a reasonable offer (in my mind), and that has been declined. So,
at 83, she is still repaying a debt incurred through maladministration
at the DHSS in the first place, she has had her attendance allowance
all but taken off her, and she receives no other form of benefit from
the state.


As she as a small teachers pension (approx £400 per month) she gets no
Council Tax benefit, nor housing benefit as my parents were foolish
enough to but their own home. She receives no help towards dental
costs, nor opticians costs or any other concessions, other than a blue
badge.

This home needed extensive repair and modification for her needs which
meant she had to take out a mortgage at 81 to pay for those repairs.
She is house bound, and only gets out if I take her (I'm medically
retired as a result of illness, but thats another story), has the
beginning of cataracts, angina, arthritis, is recovering from a fall
last November, and is essentially, a vulnerable member of socety.

Through her service as a radar operator during the war, a teacher
afterwards (she taught the local comedian Don MacLean (I forgive her
that)), and when she was able, as a volunteer tutor for English as a
second language, has contributed more than her fair share to society.
She still pays income tax for heavens sake.

The purpose of this letter is to highlight the bullying, uncaring way
in which the DWP and in the past the DHSS have treated her and my late
father. The campaign to recover overpaid monies so well publicised by
this government doesn't mention it goes just for the soft, vulnerable
targets. Those who systematically defraud, fiddle, or whatever
euphamism you care to use, the system are left to their own devices as
targets can be met by the simple expedient of going for the vulnerable.

I am her carer, retired from the local authority, getting IB and once
again a small pension. So when my pension goes up, the exact amount is
taken off my IB.

*Sigh* end of rant.

Thanks for reading.
 
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M

Martin Davies

Simon said:
Back in 1988, the then DHSS decided that they had overpaid my late
father by over £7000. His pension was cut to a mere £9.90 per week.
Soon after this he died.

My mother (then 65) agreed to pay the amount owing back at the £8.00
per month she could afford. She has been paying this back over the
last 18 years.

Then, out of the blue, she receives a letter from the DWP saying that
they are going to take £30.00 per WEEK off her state pension and
attendance allowance. I completed an income expenditure sheet for
her, made a reasonable offer (in my mind), and that has been
declined. So, at 83, she is still repaying a debt incurred through
maladministration at the DHSS in the first place, she has had her
attendance allowance all but taken off her, and she receives no other
form of benefit from the state.


As she as a small teachers pension (approx £400 per month) she gets no
Council Tax benefit, nor housing benefit as my parents were foolish
enough to but their own home. She receives no help towards dental
costs, nor opticians costs or any other concessions, other than a blue
badge.

This home needed extensive repair and modification for her needs which
meant she had to take out a mortgage at 81 to pay for those repairs.
She is house bound, and only gets out if I take her (I'm medically
retired as a result of illness, but thats another story), has the
beginning of cataracts, angina, arthritis, is recovering from a fall
last November, and is essentially, a vulnerable member of socety.

Through her service as a radar operator during the war, a teacher
afterwards (she taught the local comedian Don MacLean (I forgive her
that)), and when she was able, as a volunteer tutor for English as a
second language, has contributed more than her fair share to society.
She still pays income tax for heavens sake.

The purpose of this letter is to highlight the bullying, uncaring way
in which the DWP and in the past the DHSS have treated her and my late
father. The campaign to recover overpaid monies so well publicised by
this government doesn't mention it goes just for the soft, vulnerable
targets. Those who systematically defraud, fiddle, or whatever
euphamism you care to use, the system are left to their own devices as
targets can be met by the simple expedient of going for the
vulnerable.

I am her carer, retired from the local authority, getting IB and once
again a small pension. So when my pension goes up, the exact amount
is taken off my IB.

*Sigh* end of rant.

Thanks for reading.
Going for the vulnerable?
Would you prefer they went after the non-vulnerable only? Pretty much most
of those on benefits will be vulnerable.
And is it totally unreasonable to try and recover the remaining arrears
before your mother passes away? Or just write the remainder off?
Has the local MP been involved? Has anyone looked at the legislation about
how much can be recovered at once?
Did income/expenditure that was done take account of the DWP debt being a
priority debt or not?

Martin <><
 
S

Simon

Going for the vulnerable?
Would you prefer they went after the non-vulnerable only? Pretty much most
of those on benefits will be vulnerable.
For vulnerable, read EASY targets.

It is the way they approach matters. Since my mother owns her own
home, providing of course it isnt sold under the Part III Accommodation
rules, 5the liability will be realised from her estate.
And is it totally unreasonable to try and recover the remaining arrears
before your mother passes away?
See above


Is it totally unreasonable for my mother to have some security in her
old age? Or anyone else for that matter? It is far easier to reach
targets if you focus on the targets least likely to fight back.
Or just write the remainder off?
My mother doesnt want to do that. Just to pay it off at a REASONABLE
weekly rate.
Has the local MP been involved? Has anyone looked at the legislation about
how much can be recovered at once?
My MP (Sion Simon, Labour Erdington) hasn't had the decency to reply to
the three letters I have written on my mothers behalf. And the DWP
can, under the rules, claim back ONE THIRD of any benefits per week.

Did income/expenditure that was done take account of the DWP debt being a
priority debt or not?
Of course. One wonders where you work.
 
M

Martin Davies

Simon said:
For vulnerable, read EASY targets.
Well everyone who remains on benefits is an easy target then.
The DWP know where they live, what income they declare they have, what
benefits they get and so on.

It is the way they approach matters. Since my mother owns her own
home, providing of course it isnt sold under the Part III
Accommodation rules, 5the liability will be realised from her estate.


See above


Is it totally unreasonable for my mother to have some security in her
old age? Or anyone else for that matter? It is far easier to reach
targets if you focus on the targets least likely to fight back.
Every organisation I've come across both personally or professionally has
had targets.
Achieving them is usually a good idea. Not sure about the reasonableness of
having some security in old age - I wasn't aware it was a given for
everyone.
And so long as the debt can be proven, does it really matter if they fight
back? Surely the outcome would be the repayment anyway?

My mother doesnt want to do that. Just to pay it off at a REASONABLE
weekly rate.


My MP (Sion Simon, Labour Erdington)
Ah, we are almost neighbours.

hasn't had the decency to reply
to the three letters I have written on my mothers behalf.
Then a personal visit to his surgery is called for - with copies of the
paperwork and perhaps a diary (one page perhaps) of what occurred when.
All MPs have a surgery.


And the DWP
can, under the rules, claim back ONE THIRD of any benefits per week.
Then they are doing what is legal if they take that much. But no more.
Of course. One wonders where you work.
Not everyone sees the same things being priority debt.
As to where I work, in a resource centre. I love my job.

Martin <><
 
M

Mike

Simon said:
For vulnerable, read EASY targets.
If the DWP is owed money which is deemed to be recoverable by the
decision maker then customers still receiving state benefits are all
easy targets as the money can be cheaply and easily recovered at source
whether the customer likes it or not.

Those no longer receiving benefits are harder to pursue as if they don't
want to play ball courts have to be involved and bailiffs. This does
happen but inevitably takes longer and costs the DWP (taxpayer) more.

The DWP will therefore pursue the cheapest most cost efficient way to
recover the maximum amount of money owed and will deduct it from your
mums benefits. As a taxpayer this pleases me though I do not want
anyone to get away with not paying there debt to the taxpayer just
because they are awkward.

Mike
 
M

mogga

Back in 1988, the then DHSS decided that they had overpaid my late
father by over £7000. His pension was cut to a mere £9.90 per week.
Soon after this he died.
If it was his debt then it should have been taken out of the estate
when he died?
 
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S

Simon

I am a tax payer , as is my Mother. I agree that wherever possible,
overpayments are recovered. I do not agree with the principle of
recovering them no matter what. Then again, "There is no such thing as
society".
 
M

Martin Davies

In what situations then would you recover overpayments?

Martin <><
 
M

Martin McGowan

Simon said:
As his wife, my mother is automatically liable for this debt.
Has anyone actually checked whether there was in fact an
overpayment. and if there was did it arise through an official
error. DWP and others can be very keen to reclaim money they legally
shouldn't. i would personally investigate the circumstances behind
the claim back and get DWP to prove there was in fact an overpayment
which can be claimed back and challenge their right to make the claw
back.
There is a world of difference between them saying there was an
overpayment and them proving it. Personally i trust the maths
ability of DWP and other Govt and local govt departments as far as i
can throw them.
Martin McGowan
 
S

Simon

Martin said:
In what situations then would you recover overpayments?

Martin <><
In all circumstances. You seem to be missing the point. It is not
the recovery of the overpayment, it is the way in which they can,
legally, take a third of benefits without notice other than saying they
are going to do it; dismissing the hardship such actions cause as
collateral damage; refusing to accept responsibility for their own
maladministration and the "the computer says no" responses one gets
when trying to deal with such matters.

Bare justice is no justice at all.
 
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S

Simon

Martin said:
Has anyone actually checked whether there was in fact an
overpayment. and if there was did it arise through an official
error. DWP and others can be very keen to reclaim money they legally
shouldn't. i would personally investigate the circumstances behind
the claim back and get DWP to prove there was in fact an overpayment
which can be claimed back and challenge their right to make the claw
back.
There is a world of difference between them saying there was an
overpayment and them proving it. Personally i trust the maths
ability of DWP and other Govt and local govt departments as far as i
can throw them.
Martin McGowan

We did try in 1988. And since the 28 day limit for appeal has passed
(by 18 years or so) we are stuffed. But thank you for your concern
 
M

Mike

Simon said:
In all circumstances. You seem to be missing the point. It is not
the recovery of the overpayment, it is the way in which they can,
legally, take a third of benefits without notice other than saying they
are going to do it; dismissing the hardship such actions cause as
collateral damage; refusing to accept responsibility for their own
maladministration and the "the computer says no" responses one gets
when trying to deal with such matters.

Bare justice is no justice at all.
If the O/P was from DWP maladministration they would not be attempting
to recover it. Although I don't deal directly with OP recoveries myself
I regularly deal with customers who've had the official error part of
their O/P (the time between notification of a change and action by the
DWP) written off.

As for the "the computer says no" response get used to it. Most of the
Debt Centres were O/P calculation, categorisation (whether it is
customer error, recoverable etc) & recovery were set up specifically for
the task. The staff are in my experience poorly trained & inexperienced
so have very little understanding or ability when it comes to offering
explanations beyond a stock answer. The rest of the DWP has either gone
that way or is going that way once new IT is rolled out. I've heard
talk of 'Street to seat' times of as little as four weeks for means
tested benefit processors in future, more than 90% of IS/JSA/PC
processors work is unchecked so you can imagine the chaos that will ensue.

Mike
 
M

Mike

Simon said:
We did try in 1988. And since the 28 day limit for appeal has passed
(by 18 years or so) we are stuffed. But thank you for your concern
Blimey, no wonder the DWP is so keen to claw back the money!

Mike
 
S

Simon

Mike said:
If the O/P was from DWP maladministration they would not be attempting
to recover it. Although I don't deal directly with OP recoveries myself
I regularly deal with customers who've had the official error part of
their O/P (the time between notification of a change and action by the
DWP) written off.
Not in 1988 they didn't!

As for the "the computer says no" response get used to it. Most of the
Debt Centres were O/P calculation, categorisation (whether it is
customer error, recoverable etc) & recovery were set up specifically for
the task. The staff are in my experience poorly trained & inexperienced
so have very little understanding or ability when it comes to offering
explanations beyond a stock answer. The rest of the DWP has either gone
that way or is going that way once new IT is rolled out. I've heard
talk of 'Street to seat' times of as little as four weeks for means
tested benefit processors in future, more than 90% of IS/JSA/PC
processors work is unchecked so you can imagine the chaos that will ensue.

Mike

Scary huh? Thats one of the reasons I left local government. It reminds
me of the story (true or apocryphal I don't know) of when the then USSR
was run on targets etc. One factory was told to produce 10 tons of
nails per month. So it made the biggest nails it could manage,
weighing in at around one kilo each. The target was easily met. No-one
could make anything with the nails though.

Bugger quality, lets go for quantity eh?
 
M

Martin Davies

Simon said:
In all circumstances. You seem to be missing the point. It is not
the recovery of the overpayment, it is the way in which they can,
legally, take a third of benefits without notice other than saying
they are going to do it; dismissing the hardship such actions cause as
collateral damage; refusing to accept responsibility for their own
maladministration and the "the computer says no" responses one gets
when trying to deal with such matters.

Bare justice is no justice at all.
So overpayment should be recovered in all circumstances, but "I do not agree
with the principle of
recovering them no matter what"?

Sorry, now I'm confused.

Martin <><
 
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M

Martin Davies

Simon said:
Not in 1988 they didn't!




Scary huh? Thats one of the reasons I left local government. It
reminds me of the story (true or apocryphal I don't know) of when the
then USSR was run on targets etc. One factory was told to produce 10
tons of nails per month. So it made the biggest nails it could
manage, weighing in at around one kilo each. The target was easily
met. No-one could make anything with the nails though.

Bugger quality, lets go for quantity eh?
As I recall, there were overpayments written off in 1989 on my parents
benefit because of being social security error. So would the law have been
so different in 1988?


Now nails at 1 kilo each - sounds good. Useful as shrapnel or for large wood
projects perhaps? and the USSR was pretty good with wood.
And the target was met - just wasn't perhaps the best target to have in the
first place.

Martin <><
 
M

Mike

Simon said:
Not in 1988 they didn't!
Yes they did, back in the 80's and early 90's the O/P calculation and
recovery action was in local offices and I dealt with them. Official
error along with small (below £25 then) O/Ps were not recovered merely
noted for stats purposes. Fraud based O/P no matter what the size were
always recovered.

The decision as to whether an O/P is recoverable or not is made on
behalf of the Secretary of State therefore cannot be appealed against.
You can ask for the O/P to be considered official error but that is
based on when notification of the change was received from the customer
so is usually straightforward. The only aspect of the calculation that
is appealable is the amount of benefit that was due but as you noted
time for this has long gone and it would only help if you believed a
error in the weekly entitlement had been made.

It is almost certain that the original documents relating to your
fathers claim(s) have long since been destroyed (in line with the data
protection act and DWP document storage policies). Probably all that
remains of the O/P is the basic calculation (i.e due pw, paid pw and
dates) plus the decision regarding recoverability. As such the DWP will
have next to nothing to respond with beyond 'this is how much is owed
and the DM has decided it is recoverable'.

IMO you will get no where on this, if your father believed the O/P was
the DWP fault then he should have disputed it at the time when there may
have been some evidence to back his assertions up. The DWP will now
take the point of view that the original customer was satisfied with the
decision so 'tough luck we're having the money back'.

The DWP often used to write O/Ps off if the customer was frail and it's
recovery was likely to worsen their health but these days I don't think
that happens. I'm not sure how they arrive at the figure they use for
recovering the O/P. For a pensioner on a means tested benefit the max
compulsory deduction is £8 odd. As she's not on Pension Credit (I'm
assuming!) they probably have some calculation they do to establish how
much can be recovered. She should ask for information about how they
arrived at the figure for recovery, I doubt she can appeal but may be
able to persuade them to lower the figure if there are errors in the calc.

If there is any O/S debt when she dies they will attempt to recover from
her estate.

Mike
 
M

Mike

Martin said:
As I recall, there were overpayments written off in 1989 on my parents
benefit because of being social security error. So would the law have been
so different in 1988?


Now nails at 1 kilo each - sounds good. Useful as shrapnel or for large wood
projects perhaps? and the USSR was pretty good with wood.
And the target was met - just wasn't perhaps the best target to have in the
first place.

Martin <><
And therin lies the problem with targets if they are not specific or
wide ranging enough. I dare say the story is apocryphalthough, the
good 'ole USSR had a way with dealing with people who it felt were
taking the piss targets or not.

Mike
 
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