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14 October 2009

Barrett hails ruling over 'illegal' benefit claw-backs

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today welcomed a Court of Appeal ruling that the Government has no power to recover overpaid social security benefits from claimants who have done nothing wrong.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has overpaid an estimated £1bn in benefits since 2006-07 due to official error. Benefits affected by the ruling could include Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and Pension Credit.

Mr Barrett, who has long campaigned for a simplification of the benefit system called the ruling ‘a victory for common sense’.

John Barrett said:

“Almost every week I have constituents at my surgeries whose lives have been made a misery by tax credit error. Today’s ruling that the Government cannot force innocent families to pay back thousands of pounds is a victory for common sense.

“We now need an urgent statement from the DWP on what action they plan to take to hand back cash demanded without legal authority.

“It is totally unacceptable that constituents of mine who have been overpaid through no fault of their own are receiving threatening letters from the Government.  

“The complexities of the tax credit system mean it is almost impossible to know if you are being paid the right amount.

“Even people who have supplied all the correct information can find that they have been overpaid due to Inland Revenue errors and then face repaying thousands of pounds that they have already spent.” 

 

Notes

1. The DWP has overpaid an estimated £1bn on three principal benefits since 2006-07 due to official error (see attached table). Benefits affected by the ruling could include Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and Pension Credit.

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.