A MAN was left shocked after he got a letter from DWP threatening him unless he repaid 2p in housing benefit from three years ago.
Damien Dove, 53, branded the Department of Work and Pensions “ridiculous” after he was ordered to pay back pennies.
The security guard was informed that it was an overpayment of a housing benefit from more than three years ago when he was on low income and claiming part rent.
And Damien, who lives in West Rainton, Sunderland, said that this was the only time he has ever claimed any benefits.
The letter also stated that he had until August 29 to get in touch with the DWP regarding payment, otherwise “we will consider taking further action.”
Although Damien initially thought someone may have been playing a prank on him, he decided to call the DWP.
Damien said: “I thought it was a joke until I contacted them. It would have cost them more to send me out the letter.”
“They were quite serious about it over the phone and it says in the letter that further action will now be taken if I don’t pay.”
The 53-year-old intends to pay the debt by cheque next time he goes to the bank.
“He suggested that the money he owes was taken out of his tax, but claims that the response from the call centre was that he “owed a bill so had to pay it.”
Damien continued: “It just surprised me when I opened the letter and I was asking, are these people having a laugh?!
“I have never known anyone get a letter demanding 2p, it’s just ridiculous.
“I think it’s pathetic. I haven’t collected social security for at least ten years.
“I’ve worked all my life near enough apart from a few months and basically I’m getting penalised doing this for collecting a benefit for one week.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Work and Pensions said: “This was a debt owing to Mr Dove’s local authority; regulations require us to recover such debts when requested to do so and the automated nature of our systems the notification was generated without agent input.
“We supported Mr Dove, whose chosen payment method would’ve incurred a charge, by suggesting a free alternative.”
It comes after a grandmother was told by DWP to repay £20,000 in benefits in what turned out to be a mistake.
What should I do if DWP ask me to repay benefits?
If you are asked to make a repayment, this will be done in different ways:
- Making deductions from your benefit payments
- Taking it out of benefits that are owed to you
- Taking amounts directly out of your wages
- Getting a court order for debt recovery
The amount taken will depend on how much you owe and if you’re still getting benefits.
You can ask the DWP to reduce the amount you are paying back each month.
The DWP can take you to court if you don’t repay.
However, a demand to pay back benefits may not always be correct, as in this case, and you can challenge repayment requests.
If you don’t think you’ve been overpaid and the request for repayment is an error, you should ask for the DWP to look at it again.
You should keep your contact details up to date so the DWP can get hold of you and you don’t miss any demands.