Aisha had received a demand from a debt collection agency for a debt that the DWP claimed she owed for a benefit overpayment. She sought help from Citizens Advice to dispute the debt.
Aisha had been a carer for many years for a relative who lived with her. She claimed Income Support as her caring responsibilities prevented her from working. As required, Aisah had immediately informed the DWP of her change in circumstances when her relative passed away. However, it transpired that the DWP did not adjust her benefits accordingly, resulting in the overpayment.
Aisha gave us authority to write to the DWP on her behalf to challenge the debt. We explained that Aisha had immediately taken action to notify the DWP of the change in her circumstances, that the DWP hadn’t notified Aisha of any decision or change to her benefits, and that the overpayment would not have built up if action had been taken when Aisha updated the DWP. Also, as Aisha had been faced with a demand for the benefit overpayment debt, she had not had the opportunity to claim alternative benefits she would have otherwise been entitled to.
We asked the DWP to exercise their discretion and not to seek recovery of the debt as Aisha had acted in good faith throughout, and recovery of the overpayment would cause her significant hardship and distress.
Aisha was overwhelmed when the DWP wrote to her to confirm they had reviewed her case and that she was no longer in debt to them – her complaint had been upheld.
Names have been changed