A Sunderland man has described a letter he received from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), instructing him to repay just 2p in overpaid benefits, as “ridiculous”.
He was informed that it was a housing benefit overpayment from more than three years ago, when he was on a low income and claiming for a portion of his rent – the only time he has ever received benefits.
The letter also informed Damien that he had until August 29 to contact the DWP regarding payment, failing which “we will consider taking further action.”
This prompted Damien to phone the DWP, although he originally believed someone was playing a joke on him.
Damien told Chronicle Live: “I thought it was a joke until I contacted them. It would have cost them more to send me out the letter.”
“They were quite serious about it over the phone and it says in the letter that further action will now be taken if I don’t pay.”
Damien says he offered to repay the paltry sum through his taxes but was told that he “owed a bill so had to pay it”.
Damien added: “It just surprised me when I opened the letter and I was asking, are these people having a laugh?!”
“I have never known anyone get a letter demanding 2p, it’s just ridiculous,” said Damien.
He continued: “I think it’s pathetic.
“I haven’t collected social security for at least ten years.
“I’ve worked all my life, near enough.. apart from a few months and basically I’m getting penalised doing this for collecting a benefit for one week.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “This was a debt owing to Mr Dove’s local authority.
“Regulations require us to recover such debts when requested to do so and the automated nature of our systems the notification was generated without agent input.
“We supported Mr Dove, whose chosen payment method would’ve incurred a charge, by suggesting a free alternative.”