Overpaid employment & support allowance

Good afternoon everyone, yesterday I had a letter saying I had been overpaid ESA since 2011 due to a rise in my personal pension. Every year I have a small rise in my pension which I inform them about as required at the beginning of the tax year in April.My ESA has recently been decreased which I was told would happen & I thought that was the end of the changes.

How ever I was surprised to get a letter stating that I owed £1100 dating back to 2011 & I will be advised shortly how this should be paid. I phoned the number given & explained the situation & I would like to know if this has happened to anyone else & if they had to pay this money or if there is a way that this money will not have to be paid. Any advice will be appreciated. Thank you in advance.


Hi Sylvia,

I’ve no personal experience, but this link may be of help: Will I have to repay the overpayment? - Turn2us

It appears to say that the overpayments are NOT recoverable if they were due to a mistake by the benefits office AND you could not reasonably have been expected to notice and tell them.

A lot hinges on the last part. Even if you didn’t realise you were being overpaid, it may be possible for them to argue that you should have done, and therefore it’s at least partly your fault for not alerting them to the error.

As it’s “only” £1100 in the course of about four years (yes, I know this is big as a lump sum), I would assume the individual overpayments must have been small - small enough not to raise any suspicion in your mind that there was any error.

It wouldn’t be something you obviously should have noticed, like knowing you’d been paid twice!

So I would contest repayment on grounds that (a) You’d always kept them fully informed, as per your responsibilities, and (b) You had no reason to suspect the payments you’d received were incorrect.

You may need specialist advice - e.g. from CAB - about exactly how to handle this, but as there seems to be neither dishonesty nor mistake at your end, or even failure to correct a mistake you should have realised, I think there’s a good chance you won’t have to pay it, or at least that they’ll accept a compromise to write off part of it.

As I say, the sticking point is whether they insist it’s something you could or should have noticed. They might say that if you knew your pension income had risen, you should have known benefits would be reduced accordingly.

But as benefit rates change most years anyway, I’m not sure the average person would know, without doing a lot of sums, whether their new payment reflected their revised income or not. Especially where the difference involved was small. It might be as little as a fiver a week, over the entire period. Could you realistically be expected to work out your payment was £5 more than you were due?



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I was overpaid around £700 a few years ago. I had been getting it at the full rate and then my occupational pension came through. I informed them by phone but it wasn’t reduced. I wrote to them and still nothing happened. I wrote another letter and someone eventually phoned me. Apparently when I had initially told them someone had written my pension down as £3000 rather than £13000.

As it was completely their fault they just wrote it off and I wasn’t asked to repay it. It’s slightly different from your case but you still informed them and they failed to act on it.

It does make you wonder though how many mistakes they make and how much money has to be written off!

Sarah x

I think Tina is right. The overpayment was caused by official error. You could not reasonably have been expected to know you were being overpaid, either when the payments were made or when you were notified of the payments. You need to be able to argue both of these points in order for the DWP to decide that the OP is non recoverable. In the first instance you need to ask for a reconsideration of their decision. You have one month from the date of the decision to do this.

If, however, you fail to get them to agree that it’s non recoverable (a decision which you should appeal against), you can then ask to repay it in small instalments as it would cause you hardship to repay all of it at once.

If you can, get some help from the CAB but if not, have a look at for advice.


Thank you all for your good advice I will argue that I did not know I was being overpaid & they were informed of my pension rise, I will also contact CAB for help & advice.


Hello everybody I tried to contact the Birmingham branch of CAB today but found the number I had was incorrect can somebody tell me the correctn number for CAB in Birmingham.thank you in advance


There seem to be a number of different branches of the CAB in Birmingham. Is this of any use (Brum is not a City I know that well)

I got over paid a few years ago they paid me IB twice,3 times, so i got £690 too much i rang them and told them what they had done,and they rang me back and said that seen it was there mistake i ditnt have to pay the money back.