Home Health ‘DWP left me with £1.88 a month – I’ve been pushed into...

‘DWP left me with £1.88 a month – I’ve been pushed into £3k debt’

Daniel and Esperanza Walsh

Married couple Daniel and Esperanza Walsh who were paid £1.80 a month in Universal Credit (Image: ©Karwai Tang)

A pensioner has been forced into a £3,000 debt after his Universal Credit payments were slashed to just £1.88 a month. Daniel Walsh, 74, said he was “destroyed” following the move by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Before this Daniel had a joint Universal Credit claim with his wife Esperanza, 48, which paid them between £439 and £568 a month after deductions.

As reported by The Mirror, alongside Universal Credit, Daniel received his state pension and Attendance Allowance as he requires a mobility scooter, while Esperanza was given Carer’s Allowance.

The couple, from Edgware, were aware their Universal Credit claim was going to change when Esperanza started studying for a Master’s degree, for which she took out two loans, as you cannot claim Carer’s Allowance if you study full time.

But they had no idea just how much the DWP would cut from their claim.

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Daniel and Esperanza Walsh

They said they were left in £3,000 worth of debt following the mistake (Image: ©Karwai Tang)

In September 2023, the DWP paid the couple just £95.29 in Universal Credit.

And over the months that followed, their Universal Credit payments stayed low at £44.84, £95.29, and £40.79.

Then, they were dealt the biggest blow of all In January, when the DWP cut their Universal Credit claim to absolutely nothing.

This was the case again in February, while in March they were awarded just £1.88.

Speaking to The Mirror, Daniel said: “I couldn’t get my head around what was going on, it didn’t make sense and a payment of £1.88 just feels insulting.”

The pair first flagged the issue in their Universal Credit journal last year and continued to reach out to the DWP for help – but nothing changed.

Daniel and Esperanza Walsh

Daniel says he has been left “destroyed” by the situation (Image: ©Karwai Tang)

Esperanza flagged that Carer’s Allowance was still being cut from their claim even though she did not claim it anymore, and she also flagged that their housing costs did not add up and asked for the DWP to check their calculations.

Alongside this, there also seemed to be extra income reported on their claim, when there had been no change in income during this time.

Between September 2023 and March 2024, they say they sent upwards of 80 messages requesting help with their claim.

Daniel explained: “We’ve been writing in our journal since September 2023 when all this nonsense started and not one of our questions has been answered.

“We are both reasonably intelligent, educated people. Honestly, it’s crazy that we have been stonewalled by Universal Credit to get any answers to questions we have raised with them.”

The result of the DWP’s cuts has been catastrophic with Daniel and Esperanza unable to pay their rent causing them to fall into arrears worth over £3,000.

Daniel and Esperanza Walsh

The DWP has since reimbursed the couple (Image: ©Karwai Tang)

Esperanza said the pressure of the cost of living crisis, alongside this has been “absolutely detrimental” to their daily life and they have been forced to rely on food banks to feed themselves.

One saving grace is the fact that the couple lives in an Almhouse charity property, which has saved them from the threat of eviction.

“We are in constant communication with Almshouse charity and the administration, and, they have been very understanding and very supportive of us,” Daniel said.

Esperanza added: “The DWP said they had contacted our landlord but we have been told that this has not been the case, they are efficient so Universal Credit must be lying to us. How do we fight that?”

Daniel has been forced to take out a Debt Relief Order which will now remain on his credit file for the next six years.

He fears he could die with this “black mark” after spending his entire life working hard to manage his money to build his credit score to the high 890s, which has now dropped to the low 500s.

He said: “They have ruined me physically, mentally and financially. I don’t want to die because I don’t want to leave the mess which is not our making behind for Esperanza to pick up, but mentally, I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I’ve been put on medication and I have been registered with a crisis team because I’ve come so close sometimes.”

After being contacted by The Mirror and carrying out a review, the DWP confirmed that it had made a mistake with Eperanza’s student payment.

Instead of deducting 30 percent off their claim, the DWP deducted 70 percent. The DWP said their housing payment was also inaccurate as they did not have the correct details in the system regarding their rent.

The DWP confirmed that between August 2023 and April 2024, they had been underpaid by £5,315.65 and they have now reimbursed this payment.

While Daniel and Esperanza are relieved that their claim is finally being addressed Daniel said: “I have had to enter into a Debt Relief Order and ruin my credit reference scores for the next six years due to the incompetence of the DWP, not to mention the deterioration in my mental health and life as a whole.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “After reviewing this case, we have reimbursed Mr and Mrs Walsh in full and have apologised to them for the error made.”

It comes as the DWP introduced new rules this month that means Universal Credit claimants now need to search for more work or increase their existing hours if they work less than 18 hours a week at the National Living Wage.


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