New powers to recover overpayments

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  • #45888
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/384/contents/made 

     

    came in yesterday. Includes the expected recovery from Pip and UC payments. Section 6 deals with recovery from earnings WITHOUT a Court Order (See Part 8 for LA powers). This was expected (discussed in hbinfo training last year) although I read elsewhere that DWP would trial this for a year first. But I see no restriction on LA's to use these new powers from April 2013??

     

    Any LA ready to implement?

     

     

       

    #129439
    Debbie_Perry
    Participant

    Does this power apply to overpayments existing as at 8/4/13 or only to overpayments raised after the coming into force date?

    #129474
    jamcon
    Participant

    Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but regulation 17(1)(b) only relates to overpayments “under section 115B(4)(a), 115C, or 115D of the Act.” At first I read this to mean only the penalties could be recovered, which can’t be right. Now I read it as only overpayments where a civil penalty has been imposed (or collusion with an employer). It doesn’t appear to cover all overpayments. Am I all at sea here? The section above just states the Secretary of State for DWP benefits, which seems to mean all DWP overpayments.

    #129485
    nick dearnley
    Participant

    It also adds a new reg 106A to the HB Regs allowing recovery of any OP that is recoverable under reg 100, in Part 8.

    #129494
    jamcon
    Participant

    Maybe I’m just being a bit thick, but I want to make sure I’m getting this right. Regulation 106A states:-

    “(1) Any overpayment which is recoverable by virtue of regulation 100 may be recovered by a relevant authority by deduction from the earnings of the person from whom it is recoverable.

    (2) Part 6 of the Social Security (Overpayments and Recovery) Regulations 2013 applies in relation to the recovery of overpayments. by deduction from the earnings of a person specified in paragraph (1) by a relevant authority as it applies to the recovery of recoverable amounts by deduction from the earnings of persons under that Part of those Regulations by an appropriate authority.”

    Part 6 doesn’t define “relevant authority”, but “appropriate authority” is “an authority administering housing benefit if the recoverable amount is recoverable by that authority under section 115B(4)(a), 115C or 115D of the Act.”

    If all HB overpayments were recoverable by deduction from earnings, why has this definition of “an appropriate authority” been given when the definition for the DWP is just “the Secretary of State.”

    #129497
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Possibly to cover LA’s in the future …with UC on the way definitions will have to change to cover the position when the LA no longer has HB.

    Either way, these new powers to recover overpayments without a Court Order are very powerful.

    #129499
    jamcon
    Participant

    Maybe, but what I am getting at is that it seems only HB overpayments where a civil penalty has been imposed can be recovered through attachment of earnings without a court order. Regulation 106A(2) refers back to Part 6 and the way “appropriate authority” is defined is only to overpayments where a civil penalty has been imposed or collusion with an employer has been found. If it was for all overpayments, why have the references to sections 115B(4)(a), 115C and 115D at all?

    #130969
    jamcon
    Participant

    I earlier e-mailed the DWP about this and they have now replied. I’m not sure I am any wiser:-

    Thank you for your email. I am sorry for the delay in
    being able to respond to your query.

    I have put my response in red below your question.

    In addition to this, I can confirm that the DWP policy
    intent is for a Direct Earnings Attachment to be used as a last resort
    in instances where a voluntary agreement to repay a debt has not been
    achieved.

    LAs are at liberty to use DEAs to recover their HB/CTB
    debts but caution must be taken to adhere to the policy intent.

    DWP have developed some guidance products for the new
    process which will be piloted for DWP customers for a period of at least
    6 months. Full roll out will take place when the initial evaluation has
    been completed. LAs may wish to wait for the evaluation findings before
    they develop their own products.

    We also have information going into the monthly Housing
    Benefit & Council Tax Benefit Bulletin which will be entitled HB/CTB
    G4/2013. This is issued by DWP Housing Delivery Division and I
    understand that this should reach all Housing Benefit and Council Tax
    Benefit staff.

    Thanks

    Caroline

    Caroline Anderson

    HB Overpayment Policy, Debt Control |Department for Work
    and Pensions| Room 4C17, 4th Floor, Quarry House | Leeds | LS2 | |
    http://www.dwp.gov.uk |
    Please consider the environment before printing

    —–Original Message—–
    From: James Connolly
    [mailto:James.Connolly@whitehorsedc.gcsx.gov.uk]
    Sent: 12 March 2013 08:40
    To: STRATEGY DIRECTORATE HBandCTB Overpayments
    Subject: Re: Social Security Overpayment Regs 2013

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I have a query about the new powers for LAs to recover
    overpaid Housing Benefit from a claimant’s earnings without obtaining a
    court order.

    The new regulation 106A sates the following:-

    “(1) Any overpayment which is recoverable by virtue of
    regulation 100 may be recovered by a relevant authority by deduction
    from the earnings of the person from whom it is recoverable.

    (2) Part 6 of the Social Security (Overpayments and
    Recovery) Regulations 2013 applies in relation to the recovery of
    overpayments. by deduction from the earnings of a person specified in
    paragraph (1) by a relevant authority as it applies to the recovery of
    recoverable amounts by deduction from the earnings of persons under that
    Part of those Regulations by an appropriate authority.”

    Part 6 doesn’t define “relevant authority”, but
    “appropriate authority” is “an authority administering housing benefit
    if the recoverable amount is recoverable by that authority under section
    115B(4)(a), 115C or 115D of the Act.”

    These sections under the Social Security Administration
    Act 1992 refer to where civil penalties are applied and to where
    collusion with an employer has been proved. In contrast, for DWP
    benefits an “appropriate authority” is defined simply as “the Secretary
    of State”.

    My query is whether for Housing Benefit purposes only
    overpayments where a civil penalty has been imposed, or collusion with
    an employer shown, is recoverable by deduction from earnings without a
    court order. If all Housing Benefit overpayments are recoverable by
    deductions without a court order, could you please explain why the
    references to the various sections of the SSCA 1992 has been included in
    the definition of “appropriate authority”.

    Thank you for any help you can provide.

    Housing Benefit overpayments can now be recovered using
    a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA) which is the new powers under the
    Social Security (Overpayments and Recovery) Regs. 2013 Part 6. As you
    say the wording “appropriate authority” means the authority recovering
    housing benefit if recoverable under section 115B(4)(a), 115C or 115D of
    the SSAA 1992.

    Looking at the sections in the 1992 Act it refers to
    penalties imposed due to an alternative to prosecution 115B(4)(a):
    colluding employers etc.; Civil Penalties 115C Incorrect statements etc.
    and 115D Failure to Disclose.

    Reference to the 1992 Act and its sections in Part 6,
    (Para 17 1(a)) would therefore allow the “appropriate authority” to
    recover the overpayment plus any penalty caused by any of those reasons
    using a DEA.

    You also need to look at 115B(4)(a) the reference to
    71ZC, 71ZD, 71ZE. 71ZD refers to Recovery of Benefit payments deduction
    from earnings. All three of these types of recovery can also be used to
    recover the penalty amounts where appropriate.

    In the main, overpayments of Housing Benefit I am
    assuming would be caused by either incorrect statements being made when
    applying for HB or Failure to Disclose so are covered by 115C and 115D
    above. For the remainder they would fall into 115B(4)(a).

    #131015
    nickkeogh
    Participant

    I know that the DWP has advised us all to hang back until their piloting has been completed but has anyone decided to start using this anyway?

    #131025
    Domtait
    Participant

    We have decided to go ahead and start using this straight away. We have now produced the required notices and last week started writing to debtors stating that we may go straight to their employers if payment arrangements aren’t made. It should be interesting to see what sort of response we get.

    Is anyone else doing the same?

    #131027
    annes
    Participant

    We hope to use this sooner rather than later. We aim to start sending letters to some of debtors suggesting they make an arrangement to avoid a deductions from earnings attachment. As “Dom” says, any responce will be of interest

    #131029
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    I see no reason to wait. The legal powers are in place, the overpayment is owed to the local authority….and the debt is getting older.

    #131449
    andrewc79
    Participant

    Has anyone actually implemented a dea yet?

    #131455
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Yes they derfinitely have..as hbinfo has helped with setting this up for one LA. I think LA’s would be daft not to start this now…everything is in place.

    Incidentally, old debts will not be a problem either….because no need to get a Court Order.

    Talk about a gift for LA overpayment teams…they should be able to increase recovery dramatically!!

    https://hbinfo.org/training/courses/overpayments-improving-and-prioritising-recovery

    #131477
    mew
    Participant

    Would anyone be willing to share their procedures and letter templates they intend to use?

    Thank you

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