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Carer’s Allowance: Work and Pensions Committee calls for urgent action to tackle overpayment problem

16 May 2024

The Work and Pensions Committee has called on DWP to improve urgently how it monitors and communicates Carer’s Allowance (CA) overpayments, warning that there has not been  progress in limiting the impact of the problems faced by many unpaid carers since  a previous Committee report five years ago.

In a letter to Work and Pensions Secretary of State Rt Hon Mel Stride MP, following evidence sessions on Carer’s Allowance in March and April, the Committee highlights how overpayments remain a significant issue for carers, with concerns about the mental distress experienced by those who realise they have been overpaid and the DWP taking several years to recover high value overpayments.

The letter welcomes Monday’s announcement from the Government on plans to consider contact through e-mail and text messages, but says it is imperative that the changes are introduced without delay and a lengthy process of trials.

The correspondence repeats the Committee’s recommendation from its Benefit levels in the UK report from March that CA should be benchmarked against living costs. It also highlights concerns and recommendations relating to the relationship between CA and work, including recommending the introduction of a taper rate, and the importance of ensuring CA supports young adult carers.

Chair's comment

Rt Hon Sir Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:

“The Government has known for years about flaws that have plagued the payments system for Carer’s Allowance but has just allowed many unpaid carers to unwittingly rack up unmanageable levels of debt. The DWP must now move without delay to get a grip of the problem and ensure carers are no longer subjected to the distress that such overpayments can cause.

“On top of the problems with overpayments, we have heard how the rate of Carer’s Allowance leaves many struggling to make ends meet. The Government should make sure that carers who carry out their tasks without reward are made to feel valued by ensuring that the payment properly reflects living costs.”

Last week, the Committee wrote to the National Audit Office to encourage a further investigation into the issue.

Further information

Image: House of Commons