A woman has been ordered to repay nearly £6,000 to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after she accepted an additional shift at her job. Helen Grater, who began receiving Carer's Allowance in 2018, faced the payback demand following her decision to work extra hours at Sainsbury's while also caring for her seriously ill partner, Mark Young.

After Mr. Young was diagnosed with throat cancer, Ms. Grater took unpaid leave from her role at the supermarket chain to provide care for him. Despite his condition, which includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the need for chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she managed to balance three shifts a week at work with her caregiving responsibilities.

However, the DWP launched an investigation into her case and concluded that she owed them £5,738.40, deeming her Carer's Allowance claim fraudulent. The department's stance was that Ms. Grater failed to report her additional work hours, but she contends that she thought it unnecessary as her Universal Credit payments had already been adjusted down.

Speaking to The Guardian, Ms. Grater expressed her shock: "I couldn't believe it. You expect a safety net to be there for when you call on it. There was a safety net but [with] a huge gaping hole in it which I fell straight through." In a positive turn, Mr. Young received a cancer-free diagnosis two months prior.

Currently, there's an earnings threshold of £151 a week for those claiming Carer's Allowance, which provides £81.90 weekly for individuals caring for someone at least 35 hours a week. Exceeding this limit means you're no longer eligible for the benefit. This cap was previously set at £120 a week during the period Ms Grater claimed Carer's Allowance.

A spokesperson for the DWP commented: "We are committed to fairness in the welfare system, with safeguards in place for managing repayments, while protecting the public purse. Claimants have a responsibility to inform DWP of any changes in their circumstances that could impact their award, and it is right that we recover taxpayers' money when this has not occurred."