consumer rightsDebt

Claiming Carers Allowance and in work or self-employed?

Recent reports by The Guardian and BBC have highlighted the nearly 30,000 people forced to repay overpaid Carer’s Allowance, leaving them saddled with debts that have reached up to totals of more than £20,000. In some cases, these overpayments have led to fraud prosecutions, which allow the DWP to seize assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act. One claimant, without legal representation, pleaded guilty to fraud and had her £16,000 inheritance seized. Another claimant was prosecuted and lost his house.

These overpayments have occurred due to claimants breaching the earnings limit of £151 p/w between 2022 and 2023. Once earnings from work or self-employment –after deductions such as tax, National Insurance and half of the pension contributions – surpass this limit a claimant is no longer entitled to the benefit, worth £81.90 p/w at the current April 2024/25 rate.

Unlike Universal Credit, Carers Allowance does not gradually reduce with income, so earning even slightly more than the limit and failing to report this could lead to comparatively large overpayments.  The Parliamentary report ‘Overpayments of Carers Allowance’ found that such occurrences are usually down to “honest mistakes” and not due to “intentional fraud”.

The DWP, through access to earnings data, should be aware when a claimant’s income has exceeded the earnings limit but appears to have failed to act until large overpayments have already amassed. The MPs report stating that problems with DWP systems and staff shortages have led to “substantial backlogs in the checking process”.

The benefits system can be complicated and difficult to navigate without the right advice. If you are currently claiming Carers Allowance and concerned about the risk of an overpayment, we can give you peace of mind. Please do contact our Advice Line on 0800 144 8848 and we can carry out full benefits check and see if any other support might be available to you.

You also might find this self-help information from our national website useful

If you have been contacted about an overpayment we can check if this can be challenged, or we can help you to set up an affordable repayment plan or, if you also have other debts our specialist debt team can look to help you with a wider debt solution.


“Overpayments of Carer’s Allowance. Thirtieth Report of Session 2017-19. House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee.

“Carers threatened with prosecution over minor breaches of UK benefit rules” The Guardian

“Man ‘put through hell’ after losing home to DWP”  BBC

“DWP take Cheshire woman’s inheritance over supermarket job” BBC