External web site content: Court action – UK DWP acted unlawfully “Supreme Court rules DWP repayment demands unlawful

Supreme Court rules DWP repayment demands unlawful

Court victory for 65,000 overpaid benefit claimants

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by Department for Work and Pensions and ruled that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions cannot recover overpayments of social security benefits through the courts where the claimant is not at fault. 

Between March 2006 and February 2007 the Government wrote to over 65,000 claimants telling them it could sue them in the County Court if they did not pay back overpayments which were caused by the DWP’s own mistakes. 
Commenting on the ruling the Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham, said:

“This is an important decision that will protect many vulnerable people from debts created by the Government’s own errors. Even though the letters claimants were sent acknowledged it was the Government’s own errors and the debt was unrecoverable under its own social security law, explicit threats of court action were still made. 

“We hope that the Department will regret the anguish caused to many of the people who received the letters and will seek to improve its own administration to avoid overpayment problems. The people we spoke to did not know they had been paid too much. They were not fraudulent or feckless claimants trying to get extra money. Rather, they were the innocent victims of DWP error and the complexity of the benefit system. 

“It is a very great concern that if the Government’s plans to end legal aid for welfare benefits proceed, claimants will not be able to get advice on these complex issues in future and may face injustices as a consequence.”

The judgment is available here and the court’s own summary can be read here.


UK Housing policy is crackers! GUARDIAN (and OBSERVER) writer Rawnsley says The UK’s housing policy is surely madder than Venezuela’s Ed Miliband’s promise to protect tenants addresses just some of the symptoms of this profound crisis




The UK’s housing policy is surely madder than Venezuela’s

Ed Miliband’s promise to protect tenants addresses just some of the symptoms of this profound crisis



Its a good headline to Andrew Rawnsley’s article.

It is absolutely true also to say, as Andrew Rawnsley does, that housing is a profound crisis and Mr Milband has touched on “just some of the symptoms”.


This comment is based on the work of more than 50 voluntary organisations’ work done on inner cities communities’ needs and contributions, stretching back to the 1960s.


The voluntary organisations have not been funded by the state or by any other external funder.

The whole work has been done by each organisation taking their own initiatives  by spending the volunteers’ own resources and  skills.

One of the reasons has been the policy at all levels of the British state to push this central social need off the list of services.

We see that alongside the denial of the social duties on housing, there is an overt admission that the Government of the day is 

no longer concealing their aim to do away with socially available health and education services.

Much of the Mainstream Media has known of the ideological lurch ever to a laissez-faire direction.

And the main streams of the “Mainstream Media” have been owned and controlled by those who too believe that social obligations, duties and linked consideration should be scrapped altogether.


For those reasons, it is worth saying that in our view this Andrew Rawnsley article is a rare one for a British mainstream newspaper group to carry.


There should have been thousands of articles like this in the years, decades that have gone on since the social housing decline was launched.

One tell-tale clue as to why the British Media has hidden this profound crisis is the thinking behind the editorial decisions.

We have seen only in the last four weeks the Channel 4  programme “How to get a Council house”

reinforce the ideological line of the likes of Grant Shapps and the ConDem Coalition.

The existing empty properties are being allowed to stay that way.

That emptiness amounts to tens of £Billions in sustainable economic savings by the public.

Perhaps Ed Milband will address the role of local Councils in bring the existing empty properties into social housing use.

In one stroke, a massively multifaceted benefit could be brought about.

Will he do so without any prevarication, hesitation!