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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Housing costs  →  Thread

HB/CTR overpayment, thoughts appreciated.

CA Adviser
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Citizens Advice Calderdale, West Yorkshire

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Cl is elderly with multiple health problems and is blind. She has been in receipt of HB and CTR for many years, including an SDP in the calculation for both as she is in receipt of the lower rate of AA and lives alone. One of her daughters has PoA so administers her claims, and has contacted us.
Cl has had a decision that she has been overpaid HB and CTR back to 2017 as someone was claiming CA in respect of her. Cl’s daughter has now found out that one of her sisters claimed CA in respect of cl in 2017, even although she has never provided care. Presumably either she forged mother’s signature or mother signed without sight, on trust. Daughter states she and mother were completely unaware of this until now. CA claim has now been withdrawn by sister.

So, no dispute that she has been overpaid. It would appear that there is no grounds for a challenge to recoverability as there would not appear to be any official error involved? She has savings so no likely discretionary write off.

She can make new claims with SDP included again. Am guessing only other action would be reporting the fraud to the DWP which cl will not do, or taking action against the errant daughter in small claims, which she also won’t do? Am I missing something?

Many thanks in advance

Prisca
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benefits section (training & accuracy) Bristol city council

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my guess is the LA , like many of us, got a data match from DWP advising of cases where a SDP was in payment while carers allowance was active
they have been a nightmare , creating significant over payments for some of our most vulnerable customers. Cheers for that, DWP!

we spoke to DWP who said back in the day the customer had to sign to day they were aware of the claim, but these days its not so clear cut whether that happens, often a verbal acknowledgement suffices .
Apparently the DWP send notification letters to the customer explaining that someone is claiming carers allowance in respect of them and this may remove a sdp in HB/ESA/IS etc…. and to contact the relevant body if not sure but its not exactly clear/plain english that it may cost them £60 a week in entitlement

It may be worth asking the LA to exercise their discretion not to recover the overpayment of HB -

for CTR , there is no such option, but you could ask for a discretionary reduction in liability to an equivalent amount of the “overpaid” CTR

grounds for t both of these would be that
- Customer is elderly and disabled and
-  customer/ daughter with POA werent aware that someone had claimed CA in respect of her -
- customer couldnt know to tell LA something she didnt know had happened
- as customers household income hadnt changed , and she wasnt aware of the carer’s allowance claim , she couldnt knwo she was being overpaid

This might work if the person who was claiming Carer’s lived elsewhere - it will be ,more of a stretch if they were a non dep

Also - we re looked as some of our CIS checks for the overpayment period - some shopwed the status as “cared for” - so any o/p after that were deemed to be LA error, non recoverable


We looked at all the overpayments created ( we had about 25 in total)
in cases where the person claiming carer’s lived elsewhere and the customer said they werent aware that X was getting carer allowance, or they weren’t aware that carers allowance reduced their applicable amount, then we didnt recover the overpayment - 
this was relatively simple to agree because our notification letters dont specifically mention “sever disability premium”  - its says award for being disabled and shows the amount of the SDP

based on that, its hard to see how the customer would know to report the award of carers allowance,  even if there were aware of it.  ( because DWP letter does explicity say ” you may lose your sever disability premium and you should check if you are getting this” but our award letters dont mention it at all - all disbility premiums are shown as ” an amount because you are disabled”

I would try this approach and if it fails ( whicjh its unlikely to , ) go to the Councillor/MP and ask for them to intervene .

also - ask for any recovery from ongoing entitlement to be stopped while they consider the request - if the LA has a backlog, it might take several weeks before they look at your request t=not to recover -
Hope that helps :)

Gareth Morgan
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CEO, Ferret, Cardiff

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Is the LA going to have background thoughts, which might affect their discretion, that if she won’t shop the daughter there may have been collusion?

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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If the daughter claimed CA and she didn’t provide 35 hours a week care, then that’s a fraudulent claim. As the other daughter has POA for the mother, it’s not for the mother to make decisions not to report this, it is for the daughter who is the attorney.

Given that comes with legal responsibilities insofar as acting in the best interests of the mother, at the very least, I’d advise her to discuss this with the Court of Protection as to what she should do here. I completely understand the difficulties with the close family relationships involved but simply saying that she’s not prepared to do anything on a case of alleged fraud might not be wise.

CA Adviser
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Citizens Advice Calderdale, West Yorkshire

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That’s very helpful all, thank you. The cl has £15k in savings so not sure that the council will consider discretionary relief/write-off. Will advise the daughter as above.

Mike Hughes
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There’s a lot of this about. I have a data match one at present. Lots to unravel.

If the CA claim was fraudulent then it’s that which was overpaid. If entitlement to CA is then removed for the whole period then there’s been no o/p of HB/CTR.

If the claimant is fully blind i.e. no perception of light, then why are they not on full whack AA?

 

CA Adviser
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Citizens Advice Calderdale, West Yorkshire

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If only we had any caseworkers…..