DWP-UC has apparently now told DWP-ESA to stop paying me. I have received, in three separate envelopes that arrived on the same day, a letter saying that my ESA has ended, a second saying that contributory ESA is taxable (not that I ever received cESA), and a third that was my P45 from HMRC. I have also received, online, a letter telling me that I need to repay the ESA overpayments, which have reached over £1000.
The letter says that I have to make arrangements to pay it back, whether in full or by direct debit. In fact this is untrue: the standard procedure is that DWP-UC deduct a given percentage from my monthly payment, until the overpayment is paid off. There is no need for anyone to phone to make this arrangement. However, the letter does not say how much would be taken each month.
It is not possible to set up a direct debit for paying in installments outside of this. Whilst the letter gives a number to call ‘to discuss making weekly or monthly payments’, the system doesn’t permit that. I’m not convinced that, if a person set up periodic payments via their bank’s online or telephone banking systems, DWP-UC would recognise this happening and thus refrain from taking payments out of each month’s UC.
It is possible to pay in one installment, as I have just done, but this is unusual.
Separately, I have phoned DWP-UC about my housing element. As updated in my last blog, DWP-UC have re-entered my housing details in order to apply the 14% Bedroom Tax. However, they have somehow ended up taking 36%!
If I didn’t have a cushion of (dwindling) savings, this would be a problem, because my UC was paid last week at the incorrect, lower amount. It would leave me 36% short of what I need to pay my rent, meaning that even more of my living costs element would have to be used to cover rent. But two weeks’ worth of living costs is about to go on my boiler, because it isn’t maintaining pressure and apparently has three faulty parts.
On the plus side, my radiators aren’t leaking and the plumber will do a free service whilst he is here for the part replacements. 🙂