Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of universal credit claimants have deductions from their payment as a result of repaying (a) budgeting loans and advances, (b) universal credit advances, (c) universal credit overpayments, and (d) tax credit overpayments in each month from March 2019 to the most recent month for which data is available.
The information requested is provided in the attached spreadsheet.
We carefully balance our duty to the taxpayer to recover overpayments with our support for claimants. Steps are in place to ensure deductions are manageable; this month we further reduced the cap on deductions from Universal Credit awards to 25% and lengthened the payback period from 12 months to 24 meaning in effect someone can receive 25 payments over 24 months.
From 3rd April 2020, deductions from Universal Credit for some government debt, such as Tax Credits, benefit overpayments and Social Fund Loans were suspended for 3 months, which resulted in many claimants seeing an increase in the amount they received while allowing staff to prioritise processing the unprecedented number of new benefits claims.
Customers can contact DWP if they are experiencing financial hardship in order to discuss a reduction in their rate of repayment, depending on financial circumstances.