Direct Earnings Attachments: Who knew?

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Helen Hargreaves
Senior Policy & Research Officer
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There can be very few people in the country who are not aware of the changes being introduced to the benefits system over the coming months, explains Helen Hargreaves of the CIPP.

News bulletins over recent weeks have informed us all about the contents of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.  We know about the introduction of Universal Credit which is replacing six benefits for those out of work or on a low income. We know that to make the Universal Credit system work HMRC has changed the way we report PAYE so employers now submit information in real time. But what most of us do not know is that...

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  • What is a Direct Earnings Attachment?
  • Applying a DEA
  • Don’t panic yet!
  • Let’s talk timing
  • Moving forward

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17th Jun 2013 16:07

Unimpressed with DEA and DWP!
As a bureau we have received our first DEA notice from DWP (Dept of Work & Pensions) and were dismayed to find the notice gives no indication of how much money the employee owes. With other attachments e.g. council tax, we are told that Mr X owes Local Borough Council £345.67 or whatever, and we can track the balance owing down to zero. With the DEA, we have no idea. The employee is weekly-paid. Subject to hours worked, imagine that we deduct the following:June: £55; July: £125; August: £70 Suppose that the employee owes £150.00 to DWP. We won't know that the July payment has cleared the debt and will carry on blithely deducting into August until DWP get around to telling us to stop. This seems very unfair on the employee - and also on the employer who has to deal with the fallout!  Council tax depts are always so helpful because they recognise that we are doing their job for them by acting as debt collectors. DWP have a very different attitude. I rang the "helpline" to find that DWP are hiding behind data protection and won't give any further information. Their overly-aggressive response adds insult to injury given the lack of consultation and the fact that we have to manually calculate the deduction. I would urge any payroll professionals who receive DEA notices during the pilot period to write to DWP and give feedback.

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21st May 2014 17:44

No advice that micro organisations are exempt

Received one of these DEA orders from DWP today for a client.

The documentation received does not say employers with fewer than 10 members of staff do not need to comply.

I am sending it back as my client has fewer than 10 employees.  Outrageous in my opinion,to place such an onerous demand on employers.

I should send it to David Cameron!  I thought the government were intent on reducing bureaucracy for employers.

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12th Aug 2014 15:33

Legality of Notice

In April, I, as payroll bureau for a client employer, received a DEA from DWP for an employee of the client. As the Notice was addressed to me, not the employer, I returned it to DWP to explain this and invite them to send the Notice to the employer.

Have just had a conversation with DWP today, and have been told that their guidance is ALWAYS to send the Notice to whoever deals with the payroll!

I did not believe this to be correct and asked them to send me a note of the legislative authority for this. The person I spoke to got a little flustered and said that she would send a fresh Notice to the employer!

Am I correct? Should the Notice be addressed to the employer (for them to pass onto whoever processes the payroll)? Or is a Notice considered to be served if sent to an agent/advisor?

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