Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If this is your first visit, check out the community guide. You will have to Join us or Sign in before you can post.

Hi, I'm jackthelad! Why would the ESA deduct money?

jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
strange correspondence from esa and worrying three letters this week from esa telling me they are to deduct money from my esa no reason given just the amounts  i have found it imppossible to get to speak to the dwp to get a explaination i suffer from dementia and experincing bad panic attacks not helped  by this strange  correspondence 

Replies

  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 4,087

    Scope community team

    edited June 12
    Hello @jackthelad and welcome to our community.

    I'm sorry you're going through this without any seeming reason.  According to Citizens Advice, ESA could be stopped or reduced because of any of the following:
    • you don’t have limited capability for work - this means difficulty working because you’re sick or disabled
    • you’ve been getting ESA for 1 year – this only applies if you’ve been getting new style or contribution-based ESA
    • they’ve recalculated your ESA – this means they’ve changed how much you get after your circumstances changed
    • they’ve suspended your ESA
    • they’re taking back an advance payment or an overpayment
    • they’ve given you a sanction
    However, to ascertain exactly what is going on it would be best to speak with the DWP's benefits enquiry line direct on telephone number: 0800 169 0310.  You say you've found it impossible to get to speak with someone from the DWP - did you try this number?

    I can imagine this is causing a lot of stress and you mention that you have dementia and have been experiencing panic attacks.  Do you think you have enough support to deal with these things i.e. from loved ones, a GP or care team? And, have you been managing okay in your daily life? 

    I appreciate ESA and benefits can be confusing to get to grips with, so if you still have any questions after contacting the DWP please let us know.  Also - I've moved your thread to our ESA category and amended the title to help others better anticipate what it's about :)  Best wishes and please let us know how you get on.
    Online Community Co-ordinator

    Want to tell us about your experience on the online community?  Talk to our chatbot and let us know.
  • jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
    08001690310 i have spent  guess over 24hours this last week without  getting near speaking to anyone i have been on esa i guess   now since it replaced  the old incapacity benift my last formal interview medical was 5 6 years ago when my esa was increased other than that i have rarely until now had any communication with them
  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 4,535 Disability Gamechanger
    @jackthelad welcome to scope, the best time to contact the DWP is at 9a.m when they open and aren't too busy.
    "Putting a child into care, isn't caring for a child" (T.Rhattigan)
  • jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
    thank you every one for your advice sadly no further on what ever number i attempt to call to get a explaination  i just dont seem to be able to speak to a fellow human
  • PammiePammie Member Posts: 19 Courageous
    You have to keep trying.  Ring as early as you can and just hang on until they answer.  It can take ages i know, but there’s no other way.  Are you in the support group ? I ask because the rate of esa is higher for support group claimants and if the DWP have received info that you may no longer be eligible for this group, then your money will reduce and you will be called for work focused interview. 
  • MarkN88MarkN88 Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    woodbine said:
    @jackthelad welcome to scope, the best time to contact the DWP is at 9a.m when they open and aren't too busy.
    I believe it’s 8am. Not sure when that has been since. 
  • jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
    in a new correspondence they seem to mention a overayment of incapacity bennift from 2003 and  housing benifit from 2003
  • MarkN88MarkN88 Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    in a new correspondence they seem to mention a overayment of incapacity bennift from 2003 and  housing benifit from 2003
    That could explain the deductions then. 
  • jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
    but they cant or  wont show me any dates or amounts they have  shown a figure of 25000plus repayable
  • MarkN88MarkN88 Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    but they cant or  wont show me any dates or amounts they have  shown a figure of 25000plus repayable
    Your going to need to do as suggested and give them a call. 
  • jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
    i am more than happy to call them  if i could get a human to speak to  instead of automated messages which frequently cut off
  • Emilyb81Emilyb81 Member Posts: 469 Pioneering
    edited June 13
    Just want to say for some reason it says they open 8am til 6pm online but when I've called before it was open 9 til 5pm so it's confusing! 
    Also I was on hold for nearly 2 hours to get through before and on Friday I was on hold for just over an hour to get ti speak to someone I'd say best time to call is early morning because when I've tried after 3pm it always takes ages on hold and I have given up and hung up many times because I absolutely hate phonecalls and I'm anxious the whole time I'm holding so I work myself up until I hang up! But it is true you get through eventually just have to literally hold on as long as it takes! I also thought if I was already on hold when they closed at 5pm I would still be answered eventually before they go home... But one time I got put on hold just after 4pm and was still on hold and 5.45pm and I gave up so not sure how it all works if people are already in the queue... Good luck with sorting this all out @jackthelad it seems nothing to do with benefits etc is ever easy or stress free but you are definitely not alone! :smile: 
  • Emilyb81Emilyb81 Member Posts: 469 Pioneering
    @jackthelad just a heads up I just tried calling esa number above to see open times cos worried I might of been wrong and a man answered in 3 minutes? So if u call now u may be OK?.... 
  • Emilyb81Emilyb81 Member Posts: 469 Pioneering
    Can't believe someone is answering on a Sunday lol I was expecting an automated message saying they are closed and when to call back? But he answered and I panicked and hung up 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️😂 they must be trying to clear backlog or something! Take care and stay safe peeps! 
  • PammiePammie Member Posts: 19 Courageous
    Are you sure you’ve read the letters right and that they are asking you to repay this money - not telling you that they owe you the money ?  I’m only asking because at the moment the DWP are clearing a backlog of historic ESA claimants who have been underpaid benefit since 2003 and the amounts for repayment in some cases have been as high as £30,000.  £25000 seems an awful lot of debt to have amassed over such a long period of time without them picking up on it before now.  You need a clear explanation of what’s going on and if it turns out you do owe them the money, then you need to get proper advice from a benefits adviser as to what to do next.  
  • MarkN88MarkN88 Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    They do open at 8am during the week as I’ve had to get in touch a few times the last few weeks and always get through early. 
  • Emilyb81Emilyb81 Member Posts: 469 Pioneering
    That's why I was checking I believe I am calling a different place that's saying open 8 til 6pm online but when I've called they aren't open til 9am that's why I was calling just now to see what time it says? And they picked up so I never found out! But yes I'm sorry I am talking about the wrong dwp department I think :smile:👍
  • jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
    Pammie said:
    Are you sure you’ve read the letters right and that they are asking you to repay this money - not telling you that they owe you the money ?  I’m only asking because at the moment the DWP are clearing a backlog of historic ESA claimants who have been underpaid benefit since 2003 and the amounts for repayment in some cases have been as high as £30,000.  £25000 seems an awful lot of debt to have amassed over such a long period of time without them picking up on it before now.  You need a clear explanation of what’s going on and if it turns out you do owe them the money, then you need to get proper advice from a benefits adviser as to what to do next.  thanks yes it deffinatly says i owe them what they dont say is what do i owe them money for though in aanother letter they have suggested its to do with housing benift from 2003 and incapacity benift yet they seem very vague

  • PammiePammie Member Posts: 19 Courageous
    If it says that it’s you who owes them, then you definitely need to ring them ASAP and get full clarification of exactly which benefit has been overpaid and how it happened, how much is owed and how they expect you to repay.  You also need to find out why the overpayment wasn’t spotted before now, as £25000 is a LOT.  It doesn’t sound as though they are treating it as benefit fraud otherwise they would have asked you to attend the Jobcentre and interviewed you under caution, so it sounds as though the overpayment was either their fault, or based on incorrect information you had given them in all innocence.  It does sound odd though because you say that you had an assessment a few years ago after which your ESA was increased and yet when they were doing the recalculation they still didn’t pick up on the fact that you were already being overpaid.  This doesn’t sound right. Also, letters from DWP regarding overpayments are not usually vague.  They are usually direct and to the point, stating which benefit has been overpaid, how the overpayment came about, how much you owe and how they would like you to pay it back - they have to be specific because the timescale for repaying the benefit is calculated from the date they sent you the letter notifying you of the issue.  There are complicated rules about which benefits are, and are not repayable if DWP are at fault and not the claimant, but the default position is that they will try to recover all overpayments unless there is little chance of cost effective recovery, in which case they may waive it.  If they do insist on repayment, your only course of appeal is to try to prove that it was not an overpayment, and you were, in fact, entitled to the payments.  DWP cannot put you into financial hardship so any repayment plan needs to be negotiated to reach a mutually agreed amount each week deducted from any existing benefit. 
  • jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
    thanks  i hopefuly can get this sorted tomorrow  if i can have a proper conversation with someone instead of them only able to give me half answers especially  to matters going back 20years 
  • PammiePammie Member Posts: 19 Courageous
    You need to ring early - some phone lines are open from 8am and some from 9am, but hang on until you get an answer.  I know it’s frustrating because they keep you hanging on for so long before you speak to someone, but this urgently needs sorting. I agree with you - if this matter stretches back 20 years then something is amiss as they usually pick up on these things long before that.  I was also going to ask you in what format were the letters. Are they text alerts via your mobile phone, or actual posted letters on DWP headed paper ?  I’m thinking could it be a scam ?  For safety’s sake don’t call them on any phone number listed on a text or letter.  Ring the ESA enquiry line for existing claimants on 0800 169 0310.  Let us know how you get on.
  • PammiePammie Member Posts: 19 Courageous
    Just an update.  Below is an online post copied from a help website.  The lady in question is a claimant of ESA and housing benefit, and she has had letters which sound similar to the ones you are describing.  They give vague details of amounts owed but no calculations or explanation of how the overpayment arose, just a blanket statement that you owe them the money.  This may be a scam and you urgently need to contact DWP to make sure first of all that it’s genuine, and then sort it out from there.  Apparently there are a couple of DWP scams doing the rounds at the moment and her post got a lot of replies from people who had had the same thing - all advising substantial overpayments accrued over long periods, but very vague on the details.  Please, please be careful with this.  You urgently need to contact DWP on the number I gave you above - tell them you may have received scam letters claiming to be from them.  On no account ring any number which may have been advised on any of the correspondence you have received.  This lady’s post is below for your information:

    Anyone else having the same experience?
    I received a letter from DWP Debt Centre Trafford in the past few days.
    It says I owe them over £500.
    There is no explanation about what it relates to and there are no workings showing how they have arrived at the figure.
    I have tried calling the call centre but cannot get through. I wait for 10 to 15 minutes and then the line cuts.
    The letter states I have until 6 December to make contact. Then they will pass this to debt collectors.
    This is very poor given the total lack of information and impossibility of speaking to anyone about it.
    I am more than happy to pay money back if it is justified.
    Until I do understand what this is about, just paying does not seem a wise thing to do.
    I've written to David Lammy about it.
    Any other thoughts about what to do?

  • PammiePammie Member Posts: 19 Courageous
    Just wondering if you have managed to make contact with DWP and whether you’re OK.
  • jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
    hi pammie another wasted day  i just seem stuck at where i was last week you would think the dwp could be emailed i am thinking at the suggestion of a friend contacting my mp see if he or she can find something out i am at the stage now where the whole scenarios making me ill
  • MarkN88MarkN88 Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    Have you tried writing to them and asking for an explanation?
  • jacktheladjackthelad Member Posts: 10 Listener
    with my health i am not even sure i could compose a email if it were possible to send one
  • MarkN88MarkN88 Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    When I said write, I meant a letter to post via RM. Could someone not do it for you and then all you need to do is sign it?
  • Emilyb81Emilyb81 Member Posts: 469 Pioneering
    Hiya @jackthelad sorry you are having so much trouble!
    Just wondering what you mean about wasted day? Do you mean you tried and failed to get through on phone to dwp? Or do you mean you were unable to make contact due to health issues? I really hope you can find out what's happening sooner rather than later because once the money gets taken out of benefits it's very hard to get it back in my experience :disappointed:
    Also I have contacted my MP in the past and I had to give quite a lot of information to them so it won't be much better than contacting dwp? Not that I'm saying don't do it I just mean if you are planning to put something together for MP maybe you can put letter together for dwp with your friends help? I just hope you do manage to get hold of someone asap before things have gone too far the other way if that makes sense?
    And honestly I got straight through on Sunday so maybe weekends are better days for getting through to them? :smile: take care and stay safe! 
  • PammiePammie Member Posts: 19 Courageous
    @jackthelad. Your mp would probably need to know that you had contacted the DWP yourself before they would  get involved, as you haven’t given the DWP an opportunity to offer an explanation, first of all as to whether the letters are genuine, and then if they are, how they’ve arrived at the figures.  In my experience mp’s are only willing to get involved if you’ve tried and been unsuccessful in getting a resolution.  There’s a lot that bothers me about the content of these letters and i think there’s a strong possibility that it’s a scam which makes it even more important to get it sorted out quickly.  I rang DWP yesterday with my own benefit query, on the number I gave you and it took about 45 minutes of hanging on before i got through, so it is possible to speak to someone if you’re patient.  I really don’t think it’s wise to wait too long to sort this out, and involving your mp will take more time, especially as there are no face to face sessions at local mp surgeries because of the pandemic, so any contact would have to be by letter or email - which would only prolong things.  I would keep trying the phone number until you get through because this is by far the quickest way to sort things.
Sign in or join us to comment.