Carers overpayment

Hello, afraid to say I’m in a bit of a panic at the moment, hopefully unnecessarily.

I’ve got an overpayment of Carers Allowance of around 5 months, so not a massive amount of money (around £1500 I think) but I’ve managed to get myself into a huge anxiety spiral over the idea of prosecution?

I was receiving Carers for several years correctly and there are no issues with that. Early summer I increased my hours at work, considering it to be on a trial basis, to see if it was workable alongside my daughter’s care needs. I tried repeatedly to contact by phone to let them know but after multiple attempts of being on hold for over an hour, decided to do it in writing instead, as this is how I used to to it early in my claim (around 2015 or thereabouts). Not long after that I suffered an accident on holiday and a serious foot fracture that had me housebound for several months (still more or less housebound after 5 months actually, it’s a complex injury that may need surgery eventually). Things during this time were pretty chaotic, obviously I am and always will be a full time carer, however I work from home so was still working the increased hours, I just thought they were dragging their heels in processing it and really wasn’t paying close attention to finances at all. Got a letter in early November to say the carers was now stopped and there was a potential overpayment, I called them immediately and made sure they have all of the correct information, but they had never received the change by post, which is why I’ve now been overpaid. They’ve written again to confirm the dates of this (as above, I think it’s 22 weeks total). That letter also states that I “stopped being a carer” at the start of November which I think is down to me attempting to use the online change of circumstance form when I got the first letter, and making a mess of that, which I clarified when I called. Obviously that’s not correct as I am and will always be full time carer, but there have been no benefits received that would be affected by that so I don’t think it’s an issue? The claim is ending permanently either way.

It’s all been so stressful that I’m now totally set in maintaining increased working hours - I never intend to resume them or apply again, I’d honestly like to never deal with benefits ever again! - so I have no issue with the benefit being stopped. I haven’t been contacted about repaying the overpayment yet though I assume I will be and I fully intend to repay it and have no issue with that. Our financial position isn’t terrible as a whole household and honestly I wouldn’t even be massively bothered if there was a fine added on top.

I have however gotten myself into an absolute state about there being some sort of further repercussions beyond financial?? So long story short that is my issue. A change didn’t go through and was overlooked for a period of 22 weeks, they now have all of the correct information and I am no longer entitled, and I expect to be asked to repay, which is all fine, but I guess am looking for some sort of reassurance that I’m being over-dramatic in thinking they could lock me up and throw away the key.

I think you should stop worrying!

The DWP have to get back as much of any overpayments as possible. Just prosecuting people before getting back payments in the first instance. Is not how it works there are many ways in collecting back payments. Unless someone has been deliberately falsely claiming benefits.

They have to follow certain rules about claiming back over payments, it has to be affordable.