Frank Field said: “It is unfathomable that the DWP could allow someone to accrue close to £50,000 in overpaid Carer’s Allowance. No carer should have to suffer as result of such shocking ineptitude and I believe those overpayments that are the fault of the government’s own incompetence should be written off with the greatest urgency.”
A senior MP has condemned ministers’ ‘ineptitude’ after the revelation that people have wrongly received tens of thousands of pounds in error. The huge size of some of the overpayments was exposed by Frank Field, chair of the Commons work and pensions committee. Field has demanded an urgent investigation by the National Audit Office. It is believed that £700m of overpayments have been made in the last five years.
In 2018, tens of thousands of people who receive Carer’s Allowance were overpaid by amounts ranging from £67 to £48,560, and ministers plan to make many of them repay the money.
Those among the 6.5 million unpaid carers who earn less than £120 a week after tax and expenses are entitled to receive £64.80 a week in Carer’s Allowance.
However, many had not realised that they completely lose their right to payments if their incomes rise even slightly above the threshold, which meant that many continued to be paid money they are not entitled to.
That mistake is entirely is down to the government’s complex, opaque rules and incompetence in ensuring that people are actually aware of those rules and importantly, that their own employees are, too.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said 69,609 people could be asked to repay money through deductions from their welfare support.
Reports also suggest that 1,000 of them may actually be prosecuted, while up to 10,000 could be forced to pay fines of up to £5,000.