Reply To: DWP Carers Allowance Prosecutions

Peter Barker

I have done small amounts of expert witness work in benefit fraud cases. Kevin D used to do quite a bit of it. He always said, and my limited experience bears him out on this, that you can find something wrong with an overpayment in almost every case. It might be something trivial, like a prescribed line of info missing from a decision notice, but as often as not it is a major substantive error. The criminal courts, including defence lawyers, just don’t have enough specialist knowledge to prevent seriously unjust outcomes.

In a CA case, the proper calculation of earnings under the Social Security Benefit (Computation of Earnings) Regulations 1996 can result in average earnings below the threshold even if earnings exceed the threshold in some weeks. We don’t know whether in the taxi driver case that was also reported at the weekend the calculation of earnings from self-employment was correct. A lot of people will have their “mandatory reconsideration” rejected by DWP and give up even though the chances of success on appeal are good.

And taking a step back and looking at the whole thing from a joined up policy point of view, based on average hourly commissioning rates, the minimum number of hours’ care needed to qualify for CA, and the rate of CA itself, CA claimants are saving the taxpayer a minimum of £800 a week and much more than that in many cases.

Preventing CA claimants from working makes even less sense when you see that UC includes a carer element irrespective of the amount of earnings you have, so why the different rules for CA?