AS DEMANDS for money go, it’s breathtaking.
By any measure, if you expect someone to repay more than £2,000 you produce some sort of evidence.
And you don’t leave it 15 years.
In fact the Department of Work and Pensions’ attempt to obtain £2,249.40 from Michelle Borden seems a lot like a spam email, sent to millions in the hope that one or two will pay up.
But unlike a spammer who can be safely ignored, the DWP is refusing to go away.
Michelle, aged 31, is being pursued for invalidity benefit that she allegedly received when she was still at school in 1996.
A letter arrived out of the blue stating, ‘we are writing to you about the money you owe. You have been contacted previously explaining why’.
Alarmed, Michelle got straight on the phone to demand an explanation from the DWP.
This is when she discovered that there was no evidence to back up the demand and no record of when she had been contacted.
The DWP simply brushed her aside: ‘The evidence would have been available to the decision-maker at the time, by law we can recover the outstanding debt’.
Michelle, of Hartley Brook Avenue, Shiregreen, said: “I’ve never claimed anything from the DWP and I’ve worked since school.
“I think they’ve muddled me up with someone else, but they are refusing to see sense.”
THE DWP has dropped its demands after a call from Action Desk.
A spokesman said: “We have investigated and decided that we will not be seeking recovery of this overpayment. We will be contacting Mrs Borden to apologise for the inconvenience caused.”
Michelle was 16 when she finished school in July 1996.
She started work at Somerfield supermarket in October of that year. She is still there, although it is now a Co-op.
And although she married, when she lost her maiden name Brodie, she says she has always been traceable through her national insurance number.
Michelle added: “If they had contacted me at any time I wouldn’t have ignored it.
“Two thousand is a lot of money now, let alone then.”