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09/12/2010

No recovery of accidental overpayments

The Child Poverty Action Group v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2010] UKSC 54

Just a quick note to confirm that the Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the Court of Appeal decision (reported here) that the Secretary of State cannot use common law claims to recover overpayments of social security benefits where the overpayment is by reason of acccident or error on the part of the benefit agency. The only mechanisms for recovery are those set out in section 71 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. That only covers cases where the claimant has “misrepresented, or failed to disclose, any material fact and in consequence of the misrepresentation or failure” the overpayment has occured.

As before, this judgment only covers overpayment made in the course of an award of benefits, not accidental payments – e.g. duplicates, payment to the wrong person etc., – which remain recoverable.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

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