MILLIONS of households receiving Universal Credit and benefits could be owed £1,500 after being paid less than they are entitled to.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has estimated that £3.3 billion in state benefits was underpaid in the year to April 2023.
One of the groups of plaintiffs affected are Universal Credit users.
The DWP underpaid a global credit of £200 million during this period due to official errors.
While many of those on state pension are also badly processed, have been paid just £1billion less.
Some Pension Credit claimants also lost £100m.
And others who claimed Housing Benefit were also underpaid by £100m.
Official figures show a total of 22.4 million people have claimed some combination of DWP benefits since August 2022.
That means the average payout to those affected is £1,500.
Of course, what you’re entitled to will vary depending on your individual circumstances and whether you’re overpaid.
A DWP spokesperson said their priority is to ensure everyone receives the financial assistance they are entitled to.
They said: “The vast majority of benefit payments are due to claimants’ fault, amounting to £2.1 billion, but when formal errors do occur, we are committed to fixing them as quickly as possible. .”
While there are many examples of underpayments – there are also overpayments.
The DWP mistakenly paid £8.3 billion in the year to April 2023.
The most affected benefit was Universal Credit, and £5.5 billion worth of overpayments were transferred to claimants’ bank accounts.
If you claim benefits, there are a number of reasons you may be overpaid.
Most benefits, including Universal Credit, are calculated based on your specific circumstances, including where you live, how many children you have, and how much you earn.
So if your circumstances change which could result in you being paid less, but you don’t tell the DWP, you could get more than you’re entitled to.
This is illegal and your benefit payments could be stopped altogether if you are found out.
Changing the rules is another reason you might be overpaid, and sometimes, the government can make a mistake when it comes to paying.
How to check if you are affected
If you believe you have been underpaid, there are a few things you can do to check and start the process of getting your money back.
If you claim Universal Credit and are owed money, you can call the helpline on 0800 328 5644 or use your online account.
State Pension claimants should contact the Pension Service on 0800 731 0469.
The lines are open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Meanwhile, if you are asked for a refund, it will be done in different ways:
- Make deductions from your benefit payments
- Take it away from the benefits you owe you
- Get the amount directly from your salary
- Get a court order to collect the debt
- The amount taken will depend on how much you owe and if you are still receiving benefits.
You can ask the DWP to reduce the amount you pay each month.
The DWP can take you to court if you don’t pay your debt.
If you cannot afford to pay your debt, you can ask Citizen’s Advice for help.
If you think you weren’t overpaid and your claim was in error, you can ask the DWP to reconsider.
Turn2Us says a letter about overpayments must include the following information:
- How much do you overpay per week?
- How long have you been overpaid?
- Total amount overpaid
You should update your contact information so that the DWP can catch you and you don’t miss any requests.
It’s also important to respond to any calls or emails from the DWP as soon as possible, or your benefit payments may be stopped or changed.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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