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Outrage as man ordered to pay 2P debt to DWP – of face legal action ‘They were serious’

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Damien Dove, 53 and from Sunderland, received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) asking him to repay money owed from a housing benefit. The security guard said he accepted a housing benefit for one week when he was on low income and claiming part rent more than three years ago.

Despite only claiming benefits once, Mr Dove was surprised to receive a letter demanding repayment by August 29.

He said: “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.”

Despite only claiming benefits once, Mr Dove was surprised to receive a letter demanding repayment by August 29.

He said: “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.”

Mr Dove suggested the money be taken out of his tax, but will now be going down to the bank with a cheque for 2p after the response was that he “owed a bill so had to pay it”.

He said: “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. I think it’s pathetic.

“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.”

The Government website warns those who refuse to pay may face debt collectors.

Although they do not have any legal powers, they can take people to court on behalf of the DWP.

A spokesperson from the Department of Work and Pensions 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.”

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It comes amid a shake up from the DWP, where roughly 114,000 people will be moved from the “light touch” work group to “intensive work search” due to a planned increase in the Administration Earnings Threshold (AET).

The AET determines which “work group” you’re placed in, which then has an impact on if you’re required to look for more work.

The rate is being increased from £355 a month to £494 a month, or from £567 a month to £782 a month for joint claims, from September 26.

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said the new approach will “help claimants get quickly back into the world of work while helping ensure employers get the people they and the economy needs”.

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