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Winter Fuel Payments

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 257526, tabled on 24 May 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on how many occasions the winter fuel payment has been incorrectly paid; and what steps he has taken to recover those payments in each of the last three years.

Answered on

10 June 2019

The DWP makes around 12 million Winter Fuel payments each year.

The DWP is working hard to prevent overpayments from occurring in the first place. However, these do sometimes occur due to a claimant failing to inform DWP of a change of household composition, or that they have moved abroad. Winter Fuel staff annually undertake an extensive Data Matching exercise to identify if any overpayments have occurred, and reduce the possibility of incorrect payments.

The table below shows the volume of Winter Fuel payments that were overpaid in the last 3 financial years rounded to the nearest 100. This represents less than 0.05% of the total Winter Fuel payments made.

Year

Volume Of Winter Fuel Payments Overpaid

2016-17

3,600

2017-18

5,000

2018-19

5,200

*The data in this response has been sourced from internal management information. It should therefore not be compared to any other similar data subsequently released by the Department.

The DWP has an obligation to ensure that public money is administered responsibly. Therefore, where permitted under Social Security legislation, the DWP seeks to recover any overpaid benefit. Where possible, the DWP will recover through on-going deductions from a claimant’s benefit.

The DWP ensures that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect claimants who have deductions from their benefit to repay overpayments. There are maximum rates of deduction that are set out in legislation, and if a claimant is struggling they can contact the DWP’s Debt Management Team to discuss lowering their repayment rate.