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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I have recently been sent a letter from the dwp saying I owe

Customer Question

I have recently been sent a letter from the dwp saying I owe £122. I called and was told it was from JSA benefit payment in 1999 and that I'd begun working for a few weeks before telling them. I really can't remember but think that I shouldn't have to pay as it's such a long time ago. Is there a time limit? I've not avoided this, it's the only time I've ever claimed a benefit but they've taken SO long to get in touch though the authorities and tax office have always had my most up to date address. Please advise as to what I can do about this seemingly unfair and untimely demand. Thankyou
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Hi

 

If your only challenge is that it is an old debt then I'm afraid thats going to fail.

 

This is Crowns debt and they are not subject to the limitation period. To be fair, its only 11 years old and thats quite good from your point of view as inflation will have reduced the value of the money.

 

If you don't pay they will just sue you and they will win.

Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 64722
Experience: Over 5 years in practice.
Jo C. and 2 other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I have called dwp back and asked them to provide evidence of this 'debt' being incurred. They have agreed to send out any info they have.
Are you sure there's nothing I can do to challenge it? I believe it to be incorrect as at that time I had kept in touch dss/dwp as it was the only time I had ever claimed a benefit and since then I have been in continuous employment.
You say it is a Crown debt. Does this negate the need for them contacting me in a timely fashion? When you say that they will sue me, how would that go? You say they would win, would something so trivial even go to court? Could you explain the process to me and the implications of being sued. I have never had any issue like this hanging over my head before and without the benefit of being able to understand the laws regarding this sort of issue/process, or why I am in the predicament I find myself in, I'm at a loss as to what to do! Thankyou, Lucy
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

There may be things you can do to challenge it. But not on the time barring point.

 

One challenge is that it was not an overpayment but that you were entitled to it.

 

Crown's debt can be collected at any time. The Inland revenue, customers, csa are all in the same position.

 

They may sue you. Its really too small a sum for them to try alleging fraud. They would certainly sue though. This is not trivial. Its taxpayers money.

 

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
You're kind of missing what I'm saying. The only very small amount of benefit I received when I was 19 yrs old, some 11 years ago, was what I was legally entitled to at the time whilst I was seeking employment.. I have not, since then, been in receipt of ANY benefit and am myself a taxpayer that does not appreciate the money I pay in taxes being used to persue me for what is obviously a mistake. I need you to explain to me what exactly I could be sued for as I have done nothing wrong and on what grounds. I object to your insinuation that I believe any ACTUAL debt of this kind to be trivial. This is clearly a mistake so I need your advice as to how I would potentially prove that, challenge it and be free from this entire horrid mess.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Yes, I realised that.

 

They can just sue you for the overpayment and they would win. An overpayment means you must have been given more than you were entitled to.

 

On the face of it, there isn't an easy escape route for you. You can put them to prove upon the fact of the overpayment but if they've noticed it now then they almost certainly have some evidence otherwise they could not have tracked it down.

 

Its very unlikely that it is a mistake. DWP records are fantastic now. It may have been a mistaken payout originally but they are not likely to be mistaken on the point of the overpayment.

 

If your view is that this is a lowly sum, it could be resolved by paying it back.

 

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
It certainly could but then I know I would be paying back money that I do not owe (to my knowledge anyway), rendering it unlikely to happen!! I bet you are even more infuriating in an argument than I am! And believe me, I'm truly exasperating. But then I guess you got that already. I wouldn't mind, I'm all for paying my dues, my god, it seems to constitute literally most of what I'd rather spend on handbags and shoes, but I will have to wait and see what they can dig out and send me before they have to prize the money from my cold dead hand, joke!!
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

 

Yes, I think i would put them to prove. Its perfectly reasonable that you want to check whether or not this was overpaid.

 

But in the end, this is a low sum of money that can be paid back if they do get a judgment against you. its not going to see you sent bankrupt. If you pay it off within 28 days of any judgment then it won't even impact on your credit rating.

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