Universal Credit bosses branded ‘morally corrupt’ after forcing family to repay £6.5k DWP payments blunder

“The real duty they have is to prevent overpayments in the first place rather than forcing taxpayers to clear up after their mess”

The following is quoted from Birmingham Mail-

“Universal Credit bosses have been branded ‘morally corrupt’ and incompetent after a young family was ordered to repay £6,500.

Errors made by the Department for Work and Pensions mean that Billy Pierce and his partner have been paid too much for the past 14 months.

Mr Pierce said he and his partner had no idea they were being overpaid because they had never received the new benefit before and had given the DWP all the correct information to calculate Universal Credit payments.

DWP have ordered the money to be repaid at a rate of £100 a month – which means it will take over five years to clear the debt.

Billy Pierce with his partner Charlie Josiah-Jowett and their daughter Daisy Pierce

Billy first started claiming the controversial benefit when he and his partner moved in together in January 2018, reports our sister title Devon Live.

The 20-year-old, of Exeter, says he fully disclosed his income and also notified them of a pay rise last September, but last month was informed by the DWP that his earnings had not been taken into account because they weren’t on the system.

He was stunned to be told that instead of receiving £1,000 a month, he and partner Charlie Josiah-Jowett – who is currently off work looking after their 14-month-old daughter Daisy – should have been getting just £300.

Mr Pierce, an accounts assistant at an Exeter firm of accountants, said: “We would have been better off not applying for Universal Credit at all because now are being forced into debt because of DWP’s incompetence.

“DWP’s argument was I should have checked the statements they sent me to make sure my income was on there, but as far as we knew everything was fine because they had taken all my earnings and additional information.

“Maybe the onus should be on them to check that their systems work because if they did they’d see that my earnings get reported to HMRC every month.

“The fact DWP and HMRC – two branches of the same government – don’t communicate properly, considering both of them have my national insurance number, is appalling.”

He added: “What irks me is that we were told to update them about my earnings via the change of circumstances section online, which we did at every possible chance.

“Yet when we asked why this wasn’t cross checked with the incorrect information they received from HMRC – saying I earned nil – I was told: ‘We don’t use that for the calculations’.

“They are basically telling us we should assume their system is wrong rather than assuming it’s a correct working system.C

“The real duty they have to the taxpayer isn’t to reclaim overpayments; it’s to ensure their systems work adequately to prevent the overpayments in the first place rather than forcing taxpayers like myself to clear up after their mess.

“Legislation says regardless of fault it is still claimable which seems morally corrupt to me.”

Mr Pierce has spoken to his local MP, who received a DWP response saying: “While we accept that we have made errors… claimants also have a responsibility to check their payment statement each month to make sure all the details are correct.”

Mr Pierce added: “How were we to know we were being overpaid when we hadn’t received the benefit together before?” ” …

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