Lawyer wins review of DWP delays

Topics: Government & politics

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The Department for Work and Pensions has promised to review how it handles possible benefits overpayments into estates following a complaint by a solicitor.

Terry Moore (pictured), a partner at Hull firm Burstalls and chair of the Hull Probate Practitioners group, told the Gazette that he hoped the review would benefit most estates in England and Wales.

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The review was promised after Moore complained to the DWP when an investigation into his 89-year-old client’s estate caused ‘great delay’.

Moore said that while such an investigation should take roughly three months, this enquiry took almost a year, with the DWP’s lawyers posing questions that were impossible to answer.

According to Moore, the DWP asked for bank statements from 2003, despite the fact that most banks do not keep records for more than six years.

He said the department caused ‘great delay and distress’ to the executors and beneficiaries of the estate as the administration of the assets and liabilities could not be completed until the outcome of the enquiries was known.

He added: ‘The department’s repeated inappropriate, impractical and misinformed enquiry set off a merry-go-round of correspondence without any practical value.’

Following an intervention by Moore’s MP, the DWP apologised for the delay and said that it would review processes, including how far back it requires bank statements, and implement any improvements as soon as possible.

A spokesperson from the DWP said that while it tries to identify possible benefit overpayments as ‘quickly and as sensitively as possible’ these can often be complex cases requiring timely information from executors and solicitors.

The spokesperson added: ‘We are committed to continuously improving the service we provide and as part of our review we welcome feedback from the legal profession so we can ensure the process is as effective as possible.’

Readers' comments (7)

  • I feel Terry Moore had the patience of a saint in the matter. The DWP should hang its head in shame. As for the final paragraph as we all know this is just a "sound bite claptrap."

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  • Have the same problem of delays constantly with DWP and coincidentally was asked in one case last week to get bank statements back to 2003! Letters to the DWP seem to take forever to be looked at and their letters takes ages to come back. Eventually of course the beneficiaries get fed up and - guess what -blame the solicitor for the delay!!

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  • received a letter a couple of weeks ago to say there are no adjustments necessary to date of death (which we knew) but a warning there could be further investigation in due course if income based benefits were claimed
    Estate was finished months ago
    There is a very simple solution to the need to investigate" and to do so promptly.
    Get the probate registry to send DWP the IHT form as well as information that probate was granted. We already know the probate send the latter direct to DWP so send the former as well!
    This would also have the advantage of cutting out all the unnecessary investigations where the only asset of any vale was a house!
    (The DWP need not trouble themselves to give me credit for this suggestion when adopted - I often suggest changes to government departments which suggestions are frequently adopted, with a big silence following - not even a little thank you) No doubt someone in the department justifies their bonus from my intellectual endeavour!

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  • The DWP is utterly appalling.

    What with beneficiaries shrieking for their legacies and executors believing that the lawyers are only stretching things out for their own ends, the DWP does sweet FA and keeps everyone in suspense for months; in some cases for more than a year in my experience! After all, they are not working at the coal face, or even working at all perhaps!!

    LB

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  • No improvement in sight yet.. Merry go round, oops, I mean investigation started Nov 15; I offered bank statements in Dec and was told to wait till I was asked for them; asked for bank statements in Feb (!); all evidence requested was received by them by 11 Feb; have been informed today (when I rang to chase) that it is unlikely to be resolved until Oct 2016!!! Is this a cause for complaint?

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  • I have just read this article, my mum is going through the same thing, with DWP been 4 months now and they keep asking for moreinformation , they have been given all tthe information from the banks and yet they are still requesting more. We're going round in circles there is no more information,it was January 2016 they received all the bank information and yet we have received another letter from DWP wanting more info. Banks don't tend to keep records going back more than six years .

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  • I've informed my mum to contact her solicitor and tell her that she works for her not the DWP and if they want any information from the banks then they should ask them there selves. Your not paying for her time to obtain information that she has already submitted

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