Debt Recovery Notification and the first initial recovery 'minimum' amounts

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please can you kindly direct me to the published or any internal DWP staff information, guidance, or advice regarding any requirement of the DWP to notify the Universal Credit claimant in advance of the DWP's Debt Management team's intention to recover money from any Universal Credit payment due to the claimant.

Please could you also supply any example 'standard form' communications that Debt Management use to inform the claimant of their intention to make debt recovery in advance, and of the date when that will commence.

I'd grateful too if you could you point me to any published information, or any DWP staff information, guidance or advice on:

1. The requirement for the first calculated repayment to be made in full to the Debt Management team, under a repayment plan correctly calculated by them.

2. Whether the matter of financial hardship caused by this repayment on the claimant, arising from a demonstrable inability to be able to repay without hardship arising, could nonetheless, only be considered by Debt Management after the initial payment has been made against the original Debt Management repayment plan.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Mark Abraham

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please could you reply to me enquiry?

Yours faithfully,

Mark Abraham

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Debt Recovery Notification and the first initial recovery 'minimum' amounts'.

I've asked a question. It's not been answered, despite a reminder. Why not? Next step is a complaint outside, and possible legal action.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

Yours faithfully,

Mark Abraham

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of Operations FOI Team, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mark Abraham,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 28th
November.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of Operations FOI Team, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mark Abraham,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 26th
January.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Dear [email address] on behalf of Operations FOI Team,

Our Ref: FOI2019/42660 and IR 03332

Thank you for your response of the 28th January.

I'd like to thank you for your courteous apology, and for the considered and thoughtful reply. I'm very grateful to you for your efforts in this matter.

I do have three queries arising from the letter, and as mentioned in your final paragraph, am responding also to raise these with you.

My first query arises from your penultimate paragraph:

"If a claimant feels that the recovery rate for a particular debt will cause hardship, they can
contact Debt Management at any point to ask if that particular deduction can be reduced. In
theory, this could be before the first payment; in practice, it may not always be possible as the
deduction may already have been made".

If this is the case, do you hold any information on the circumstances as to when it can be practicably possible to raise an appeal on the grounds of hardship for an initial repayment reduction. I ask as I have been told it was not possible to do this in any cases of debt repayment. It may be that the method of calculation used, and the time between the calculation of Universal Credit being made, and the processing of this calculation being made is too narrow a passage of time for any alteration to be made.

I ask this, as I'd been told separately, by four individual members of the DWP Debt and Repayment team that all initial repayments could not be changed - it didn't happen. And I was told this in advance of the calculation being made in my case.

If you can reply and explain the circumstances in which - in theory - it's possible to happen, that would be illuminating. I hope you can help.

My second query is simply of clarification, insofar as I asked to see any templates used by the DWP to write to claimants. By what you say, am taking it that circumstances for each are too individual to lead to a standard letter. There may however be some guidance as to the points that should be raised when writing to a claimant, and I'd be grateful if there are is an aide memoir, or bullet pointed 'don't forget to' instruction that you can share.

My last query is I'd be grateful for information, if available, on any set timescale for writing to the claimant, in advance of the time the Universal Credit calculation would be made? If so would the 'theoretical' timescale had a minimum time set for the claimant to respond to the DWP Debt Repayment team to claim a reduction on the grounds of hardship? Is the underpinning reasoning of the Universal Credit system be such that the repayment start date should only be delayed until the information has been processed through the system, or are there other factors?

For instance, if a overpaid tax credit was notified to the claimant in July by HMRC needed to be paid back and that it was being referred to DWP repayments, the delay in time of getting the repayment data to be included in Universal Credit calculation, was down to the time between: the HMRC actually passing on to the DWP repayment team the information, and; the time it would take for the DWP to write to the claimant by means of the journal - assuming of course, that the notification by journal to the claimant was to be in advance of any calculation.

I'm putting these queries to gain a more clear information on this query. I am aware you're limited to responding to information that has been created, and am aware of that. I'm also grateful for your patience in dealing with my enquiries.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Abraham

Department for Work and Pensions

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no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of Operations FOI Team, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mark Abraham,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 30
January.

Your response is attached

Yours sincerely,

DWP Operations FOI Team