Discretion in overpayment recovery.
R v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWHC 233 (Admin) calls into question at least three aspects of the long-established practice of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The case concerns the DWP’s discretionary power to waive the recovery of overpayments. In former times, the rules governing recovery only rendered claimants liable if they had misrepresented or failed to disclose a material fact. Tax Credits had required low income families to repay substantial amounts of money delivered in error – a process the Ombudsman condemned as 'fundamentally unsuited' to their needs (Parliamentary and Service Ombudsman Citation2007, p. 5). Following this example, in 2013 a general power to recover overpayments from other benefits was introduced, governing Universal Credit, Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance. In the present case, the DWP had 'repeatedly' miscalculated the benefit, and assured the claimant that the payments were correct. The claimant had taken 'all reasonable steps to repeatedly clarify her entitlement and provide information' (para. 1). There was no dispute that the overpayment was the result of official error. The DWP had apologised for 'this profound lapse in service'. The claimant asked the DWP in three separate applications to exercise its discretion to waive repayments, and the DWP refused at every point.
SPICKER, P. 2023. Discretion in overpayment recovery. Journal of social welfare and family law [online], 45(2), pages 184-187. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1080/09649069.2023.2206218
|Journal Article Type||Article|
|Acceptance Date||Apr 20, 2023|
|Online Publication Date||May 25, 2023|
|Publication Date||Jun 30, 2023|
|Deposit Date||Jun 6, 2023|
|Publicly Available Date||Jun 6, 2023|
|Journal||Journal of social welfare and family law|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis (Routledge)|
|Peer Reviewed||Peer Reviewed|
|Keywords||Overpayments; Universal credit; Fettering discretion; Mandatory reconsideration|
SPICKER 2023 Discretion in overpayment recovery
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© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Final VOR uploaded 2023.06.20