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Challenging an overpayment

 

JayKay
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Benefits Adviser Penwith Housing Association Penzance

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I have just got off the phone from the UC helpline.

We have requested a mandatory reconsideration of an overpayment decision via my client’s online journal.  We are not challenging the fact that he was overpaid, but we disagree with the amount of the overpayment (he was paid ESA after the UC start date but they are recovering more than he actually received).

We were told that there is no right to a mandatory reconsideration on any aspect of an overpayment and so the request would not be forwarded to a decision maker.  The team leader confirmed this and said that they would take no further action - as far as they were concerned it was all correct.

I think this is wrong, but I just wanted to double check before I proceed.

Thanks

     
Elliot Kent
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Shelter

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Yes that is totally nonsense.

     
ClairemHodgson
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Solicitor, SC Law, Harrow

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there was another post recently on something similar.

basically they have to give reasons, including calculations, that the client can understand, and if they don’t they can be taken to tribunal

     
JayKay
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Exactly my thoughts

We requested a full written explanation of how the overpayment was calculated - which they have also refused.

My thoughts now are - direct appeal to HMCTS on the grounds that they have refused to undertake a MR, complaint to DWP about wrong advice being given at call centres and the denial of the right of appeal (I’m very concerned about how many others have been refused) and complaint to MP.

     
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and Advice Resources, Age UK

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Maybe contact Public Law Project to look at judicial review? What they’re doing (or not doing more precisely) is completely unlawful.

Or look at using one of the escalation contacts from the list that Dephne circulates?

     
Janine Yates
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Mental Health WR & Debt Advice Service, Tameside MBC

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I have just come off the phone to a client who has been told the exact same thing and was insisting that, in the absence of any other procedure,  I therefore help him take the matter to court. I advised that this was nonsense and I have written to Debt Management to ask for an explanation and some further information. he couldn’t possibly have been overpaid UC for the period in question as he was in receipt of ESA(c) and was only having his housing costs paid through UC.

     
Rosie W
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Northumbria Healthcare Welfare Rights Service

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The inconsistency is also maddening. I advised our Deputyship team to post an MR request on the Journal re an overpayment decision; this was done 2 weeks ago. I spoke today to a Helpline operative who was actually helpful and didn’t come out with any of the nonsense about not challenging but also confirmed it wasn’t registered as an MR because “the case managers don’t have time to look that often at the Journal”.

Our local Partnership manager is currently assuring everyone attending the UC introduction sessions at local JCs that messages on the Journal will be responded to within 48 hours.

We’ve also had a very odd response to a comprehensive and fully explained complaint about various matters on this claim which was added to the Journal within 3 days of the complaint being made. The response is undated and unsigned and broadly states that everything is correct and that is just how UC works. And does include a sentence to the effect that we cannot challenge the overpayment because “all overpayments are recoverable”.

It’s been said elsewhere but it really does feel as though they are making it up as they go along.

     
BC Welfare Rights
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The Brunswick Centre, Kirklees & Calderdale

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In case you’ve missed it, KMJones at CPAG early warning system is also on the look out for any examples of such activity. Eg see post #125 here https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/6906/P120/

     
Matt
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Specialist Casework, Cambuslang & Rutherglen CAB

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I don’t know if this is helpful
but any actions taken by an agent usually follow an ALP (Agent Led Process) which is then saved and uploaded to the system, these processes usually contain a part leading agent to the UCCP (Universal Credit Communication Platform) where the can obtain a pro-forma document , for overpayments usually a UCD372 letter should be uploaded to the claimants journal and a notification by text/email sent.
I would be of a mind to seek a SAR requesting a copy of the notes from the agent side and copy of the ALPs to ensure these have been followed appropriately.