Did you just receive a DWP Debt Management letter requesting money because of an overpayment 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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Sound familiar? You’re not alone. We address all your concerns about DWP Debt Management letters asking for overpayments back.

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.

Their job is to collect debt from people who have used DWP services. The debt will usually arise because of overpayments due to the debtor giving the DWP incorrect information for social security claims.

Don’t worry, here’s what to do

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What is the total amount of your debt?

Who Do DWP Debt Management Collect Debt for?

DWP Debt Management only collect 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
  • Social fund loans
  • Housing benefit overpayments
  • Tax Credit overpayments
  • Overpayments from NHS compensation costs

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.

DWP Website Page

Have You Received a DWP Debt Management Letter?

A DWP Debt Management letter might drop through your letterbox unexpected. 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 that forces you to pay or face bailiffs coming to your home.

That means they could come to your home and demand a 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!)

Can DWP Debt Become Statute Barred?

Yes, many debts that the DWP Debt Management team chase 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 debts which are six years old and tick a few other boxes will be 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 overpayment 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 full amount.

What Are the Solutions for DWP Debt Management?

DWP Debt Management will usually offer debtors with 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 ongoing benefits 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 to reach a conclusion.

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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