DWP Debt Management Letter – Should You Pay? 2022 Guide
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Have you received a DWP Debt Management letter requesting money because of tax credit overpayments or debt? This guide is for you!
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“Last Feb I received a letter from debt management based at DWP, they stated that I owed them £982 resulting from an overpayment from 2006 when I was claiming JSA.”
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I have a letter from DWP saying I owe money, what do I do?
DWP Debt Management may have written to you to urge you to repay a benefit advance or to inform you that you’ve been overpaid in your benefits for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- You got a short term benefit advance or a ‘budgeting loan’ from the government because you needed money for things before your benefits payment day. The government didn’t charge you any interest on the loan.
- You failed to record a change in circumstances that would have affected the number of benefits you were entitled to, such as moving in with a partner.
- You provided incorrect information when filing your benefits claim or reporting a change in circumstances.
- Your payment was made incorrectly by the DWP.
- It’s also possible that you haven’t been overpaid and the DWP Debt Management letter was issued to you in error.
Who Are DWP Debt Management?
DWP Debt Management is one department within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of the UK Government. Although they are one department, they have six locations spread across the United Kingdom. They are a debt collection company that collects debts from people who have used DWP services and owe money. The debt will usually arise because of overpayments due to the debtor giving the DWP incorrect information for social security claims.
Who Do DWP Debt Management Collect Debt for?
DWP Debt Management only collects debt for the DWP. They may collect debts ranging from a variety of benefit payments, social fund loans and more.
Here is a complete list of the type of overpayments/debts that DWP Debt Management could chase you for:
- Social security benefits (Universal Credit overpayments)
- Old JSA overpayments
- Advanced payments that were not needed
- Outstanding social fund loans
- Housing benefit overpayments
- Tax Credit overpayments
- Overpayments from NHS costs
Feeling like Chandler?
Is all this information starting to feel overwhelming? Don’t panic! There’s plenty of help available. You can get started below.
DWP Debt Management Contact Information
The six DWP Debt Management offices are not open for the public to visit. But you can still contact DWP Debt Management on the phone using 0800 916 0647.
However, if your debt is due to a social fund loan, the DWP Debt Management team have a specific number for you to call. Anyone wanting to discuss overpayments of a social fund loan should call 0800 169 0140 instead.
Have You Received a DWP Debt Management Letter?
A DWP Debt Management letter might drop through your letterbox unexpectedly. After all, most people receiving financial support from the DWP do not realise they are being overpaid.
The DWP Debt Management letter itself could sound threatening with big bold text and red writing. If you receive a DWP Debt Management letter, try not to panic. They understand this could come as a surprise.
UK Personal Debt 2021 Update:
As of April 2021, the average UK credit card debt was £1,928
(Source: The Money Charity)
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore a DWP Debt Management Letter
The worst thing you could do in this situation would be to ignore the DWP Debt Management letter. By ignoring the letter, you could open yourself up to legal proceedings.
Even if you can’t afford to pay the amount stated on the DWP Debt Management letter, do not ignore it.
There are ways around this problem!
You Can Ask DWP Debt Management to Prove the Debt
Just because DWP Debt Management state you owe the money doesn’t mean they will be correct 100% of the time – although they most often are.
There could be circumstances they do not know about or they may have the wrong information on file for you (such as income etc.). For this reason, before you pay you should request proof of the overpayment and why they think you have overpaid. You could get this by calling or by sending them a letter back – but don’t delay!
What Happened If You Don’t Pay DWP Debt Management?
If you don’t pay DWP Debt Management, they could raise a court case against the overpayment to get a CCJ (county court judgement) that forces you to pay or face bailiffs coming to your home.That means they could come to your home and demand payment or take your valuable items to be sold and pay off the overpayment debt. But in most cases, this can be avoided (even when you can’t afford to pay it back!)
What happens if I can’t afford the repayments?
Owing money is never a nice experience. However, the first thing you should do if you receive a letter from the DWP is to get in touch with them. While they would like the money owed back straight away, they cannot force you to do this. Instead, they will talk with you about your income and earnings, plus your expenditures. Then they will come up with a solution that involves affordable repayments to help you pay off any debts owed.
Can DWP Debt Become Statute Barred?
Yes, many debts that the DWP Debt Management team chases can be statute-barred. A statute-barred debt is when the debt is too old to go to court and you cannot be legally made to pay.
The Limitation Act says that if debts are six years old and tick a few other boxes, they will become statute-barred. The time period for social fund loans begins counting down at the point when repayments are needed – not when the loan is given to you.
How Do Joint DWP Overpayments Work?
You may have received financial support from the DWP as a couple. If that is the case and you have now been issued with a DWP Debt Management letter to recover the overpaid benefits you received jointly, you are both responsible for 100% of the debt.
Some people may have separated from the person they received the DWP payment with. It is not the case that you both owe 50%. You are both 100% responsible for the benefit overpayments and cannot leave it up to the other party to pay.
What Are the Solutions for DWP Debt Management?
DWP Debt Management will usually offer debtors repayment plans to pay back any overpayments. This is why it is crucial not to hide from the DWP Debt Management letter just because you cannot pay the full figure straight away.
On some occasions, you might be able to agree that DWP Debt Management will take some of the repayment from the ongoing benefit payments and financial support you currently receive.
Complain About Your DWP Debt Management Letter
If you believe there has been a mistake and you were not overpaid, you should first provide DWP Debt Management with the correct information. This could be done over the phone and you may need to send them documents.
If they disagree and you still believe their calculations are incorrect, you do have the option to complain about DWP Debt Management to the Financial Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman will weigh up the facts to decide what has happened. They are impartial and operate fairly when it comes to debt collectors reaching a conclusion.
Help with debt
If you’re regularly finding yourself stick when it comes to money there are plenty of things you can do. Remember that you can always speak to Citizen’s Advice or The Money Advice Service for free advice on how to resolve your debt problems. They can also help you understand any legal language used when it comes to making your repayments.
Your DWP debt won’t just go away, and the Department of Work and Pensions won’t forget about it either. However, depending on your circumstances you may be able to have some of the debt wiped. In the very worst case, you will set up payments that you can afford (even if that means a few years until the debt is paid). Ignoring them could be seen as fraud.
Speak to a DWP representative as soon as you receive notice to stop DWP chasing you. You’ll feel much better once you have payments set up!