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Universal Credit Retrospective Verification

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Daphne
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Jo_Smith - 30 November 2021 04:49 PM

This retro verification horror show just rumbles on.
In just 2 last days: £27K “overpayment” letter for a disabled client. Claim closed. No decision notice issued. A note on the system (internal, because client has no Journal, she has a phone claim). Note says: claimant is not eligible. THAT IS IT. Called DWP. Poor inexperienced, untrained subcontractor utterly unable to deal with it. Refused to register request for WSOR or MR. Put us on hold and then…terminated the call.
Client is frantic- no money for Christmas. Apparently (because it is all guesswork at this point) it is because client was getting SDP when she claimed UC.
(She wasn’t, but this is the idea ventured by the clueless case manager…)

Another one- “overpayment” of 16K. Apparently because kids are FT students who live away during term time, thus, accordingly to whoever who did NO investigation, they are not entitled to their own bedrooms. Whoopsie, goes the whole housing costs element.

Things are VERY VERY bad in UC -land.

Jo - if you want to DM me details I will send that one up to them - clearly not following their procedure that they set out to me!!

Daphne
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Have just had a discussion with a couple of DWP officials about their retrospective verification process. They have internal guidance which they say they are following which follows the law - have asked for a copy of it - they are going to ask but think unlikely they will provide. Did point out that it would be helpful for advisers to have - we could make suggestions for improvement if necessary, and we could also direct DWP staff to it if it was not being followed.

I’ll see what they come back with, but I guess if they don’t provide it I can do a FOI request.

They also acknowledged that things hadn’t all been done correctly in the past, but hopefully will be going forward. If you have case studies where things are not happening as they should, do let me know and I will feed them back so they can investigate.

Mr Finch
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Benefits adviser - Isle of Wight CAB

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Daphne - 14 December 2021 02:37 PM

Have just had a discussion with a couple of DWP officials about their retrospective verification process. They have internal guidance which they say they are following which follows the law - have asked for a copy of it

“All guidance was followed”

Andrew Dutton
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Welfare rights service - Derbyshire County Council

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I’ve been dealing with a case in which the overpayment decision was overturned via MR on 22/11/21, and the decision stated that deductions (from claimant’s wages) would cease, and any monies would be returned to him.

I complained to DWP when no refund was made and deductions continued.

The response from Debt Management: ’ We took the UCOP out of recovery on 30/11/2021 and cancelled it on 08/12/2021. There is no refund due.
Claimants also have a Tax Credit Overpayment of £588.98 so they will need to ring us by 07/01/2022 to arrange a payment plan if they want to avoid a Direct Earnings Attachment.’

As of yesterday, in spite of a complaint to the constituency MP, Debt Management are still taking money direct from wages and the claimant is struggling to pay his bills.

There is something very, very wrong here, not just in the way these decisions were made but also in the lofty, arrogant conduct of Debt Management.

Ros
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In response to written question on how many claims suspended under the Risk Review process have been reinstated as of 24 December 2021, David Rutley says -

‘Approximately 3% of cases reviewed under the Risk Review Process between May 2020 and the beginning of January 2022 have been re-instated.’

Dan Manville
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Greater Manchester Law Centre

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Daphne - 26 October 2021 09:49 AM

This is the response I received from DWP after chasing (2 months after I sent the urgent email!)

...:

As you’ll be aware, regulation 38 of The Universal Credit etc. Claims and Payments Regulations 2013 allows the Secretary of State to ask claimants for information or evidence to determine whether an existing award should be revised or superseded. Further the failure to provided that information or evidence triggers regulation 45 of the UC etc. Decision and Appeals regulations – suspension in prescribed circumstances. It is accepted that regulation 38 is not the means by which the Secretary of State can mount ‘fishing expeditions’ against claimants. Its use must be seen to be reasonable and proportionate. If there is reason to consider that a review is required, then given that taxpayers’ money is potentially at stake, quite rightly that review should be undertaken. What, of course, is then critical, is identifying affected cases and following correct process.

.

Seems like our local DM team didn’t get that memo…

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Elliot Kent
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I don’t know where to start with that one Dan.

How does reg 12 D&A come into it?

And what is going on with the last paragraph?

Surely the basis for the overpayment is that the DWP are trying to argue that they were entitled to conclude that your clients are not who they say they are because they were unable to provide evidence of their identities when asked. However in the last paragraph they seem to be conceding that they were never asked to provide that evidence.