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i The advice on this page applies to anyone with personal debts taken out in the UK.

DWP Debt Management

DWP Debt Management and overpayments

You may be contacted by DWP Debt Management if you owe money to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This can happen because:

  1. DWP made a mistake
  2. They have the wrong information from your application
  3. Your circumstances changed and DWP do not know

What are DWP debts?

A DWP debt is money owed to the Department of Work and Pensions.

A DWP debt happens when:

  • DWP think they have overpaid you on your benefits
  • Or tax credits
  • Or other payments

The will want you to repay these government debts in a reasonable amount of time.

Treat these as priority debts. The consequences of not paying them can be serious.

Use our online benefits calculator to see what benefits you should be entitled to.

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Who are DWP Debt Management?

DWP Debt Management collect DWP debts.

They mainly collect benefits overpayments, but also:

  • Outstanding Social Fund loans
  • Advances (payments on account), including short-term benefit advances
  • Tax Credit overpayments
  • Overpaid benefit from the estates of people who died
  • Social security benefit relating to compensation cases
  • NHS costs relating to injury cases

Repayments can be taken:

  • Out of your benefit payments
  • Out of benefits you are owed
  • Out of your wages (this is called a direct earnings attachment)
  • By court order for debt recovery

If you have been overpaid Tax Credit and still receive it, the DWP will take money off future payments until it is paid off.

If you are no longer getting Tax Credit, the DWP will send you a bill. They may expect you to pay in one lump sum.

How do I know if I have been overpaid?

DWP Debt Management will write to let you know why they think you have been overpaid.

Contact them straight away to let them know if you disagree.

You can dispute the decision if they still think you owe them money.

You are not necessarily suspected of fraud for an overpayment.

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Struggling with overpayments or arrears?

We're here to help. Get free help with your debts.

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What are benefits overpayments?

Benefit overpayments are a mistake with how much you are paid.

Repayments can be taken by:

  • Deductions from your continuing benefit payments (most common)
  • Taking amounts directly from your wages
  • Getting a court order to recover the debt

If you think this is a mistake, you can ask for a mandatory reconsideration within one month of receiving the original letter.

What are Tax Credit overpayments?

Tax Credit overpayments happen if there is wrong or incomplete information on your application.

The Tax Credit Office will ask you to pay it back.

They will write to you to explain details of the overpayment, and how they expect you to repay it.

You can dispute the decisions if:

  • You think the Tax Credit office made a mistake
  • You think you were given incorrect information
  • You think you were given incorrect advice

How do I challenge a decision?

You can ask for a mandatory reconsideration if you think the DWP has made a mistake.

You can:

  • write a message in your Universal Credit online account
  • Fill in a CRMR1 mandatory reconsideration request form on GOV.UK. Print and send it to the address on top of your decision letter
  • write a letter to the DWP. Send it to the address on the decision letter
  • Call the number on the decision letter

If you are near the deadline:

  1. Call the DWP to say you want a mandatory reconsideration
  2. Write to the DWP after you call to say why you want a mandatory reconsideration

signpost iconContact details for DWP Debt Management

Telephone: 0800 916 0647, Textphone: 0800 916 0651. More information on the Gov.UK website.

Can DWP Debt Management take money from my wages?


Money you owe for benefits or tax credit overpayments can be taken directly from your wages.

This is called a direct earnings attachment (DEA).

  • There is no court order for a DEA
  • Your employer gets details of how much to take from your pay
  • Payments go directly from your employer to the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP)

The DWP should write to you before starting the DEA.

You may be able to avoid the DEA by agreeing payment instalments instead.

How long can DWP Debt Management chase me for a debt?

The standard time in which debts should be reclaimed by the DWP is six years.

County Court Claims

You can put in a defence if they issue you a county court claim for a benefit overpayment older than six years. Seek legal advice for this.

Direct earnings attachment

A direct earnings attachment can be used to recover benefit overpayments at any time because they require no court action. Even after these debts are statute barred.

Can the DWP look at my bank account?

The DWP can look at your bank account and social media if it has reasonable grounds to suspect you might be involved in benefit fraud.

For example, they can request information from your bank if they do not think you were honest about your savings.

If you are struggling to deal with a DWP overpayment, you may need expert debt advice. Use our online debt advice tool to get debt help.