If your not on benefits then the Limitation Act 1980 would apply where appropriate to prevent court action being taken to recover the debt.

A number of people asked if i would do a story on the DWP as they have been chased for a loan they had taken out 15 0r 20 years ago whilst claiming benefits.
So i put in a FOI and asked what the rules were as most debts are statutebarred after 6 years.
This is what they said.
To Mr Simon Preston via email to:
28 February 2012
Dear Mr Preston
Freedom of Information Act – Request for Information

Our Reference: FOI 608

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request received on 3 February 2012.   You asked for the rules when someone owes DWP money for a debt or loan that is over 6 years old.

The time limits for taking civil action to recover debts in England and Wales are prescribed in the Limitation Act 1980. Different legislation applies in Scotland.

The Limitation Act prevents civil action being taken against a customer where the last acknowledgement of the debt or effective recovery was more than 6 years previously. In relation to DWP debt however, the Act does not prevent DWP from continuing to seek recovery by any other means, including deductions from future benefit payments or instructing our private sector partners to pursue repayment on our behalf. However, where the customer is no longer in receipt of a benefit, the Limitation Act would apply where appropriate to prevent court action being taken to recover the debt.

The Department’s policy is to continue to seek recovery of any outstanding overpayment or Social Fund debt, regardless of whether or not recovery of the debt in court would be time-barred under the Limitation Act. Although Court action may not be possible, the customer may still be invited to repay. Where a customer returns to benefit at any time, deductions from that benefit will be taken to recover any debt that remains outstanding.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact Dean Francis on 0113 232 4095 quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

Communications Team

Commercial Directorate

DWP Finance and Commercial



Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, 2nd Floor The Adelphi, 1-11, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HT. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk