PLP has today urged for Universal Credit deductions to be temporarily suspended while longer term plans are made to install appropriate safeguards against incorrect or harmful deductions.

The recommendations are in response to the Department of Work and Pensions Select Committee’s call for written evidence on how to support people on Universal Credit, legacy benefits and the state pension through the next year.

Our recommendations to the Committee include:

  • Suspending Universal Credit deductions – similar to the approach taken in response to the Coronavirus pandemic – as evidence of their harm mounts and in order to implement longer term changes.
  • Converting Advance Payments and Hardship Payments into non-repayable grants, thereby reducing debt owed by individuals to the DWP.
  • Writing-off overpayments caused by DWP mistakes and those that relate to historic debt (including historic tax credit debt).
  • Introducing proactive consideration of affordability and vulnerability prior to deciding a) whether to apply deductions and b) the rate of recovery. 
  • Improving the accessibility of the measures in place to safeguard against incorrect, unfair or harmful deductions (financial hardship decisions, suspensions and waivers).

Our full submission will be published at the end of the inquiry process.

Read Caroline Selman and Emma Vincent Miller in Legal Action Magazine on How is Universal Credit an inflexible system causing destitution.

If you have experience of Universal Credit and legacy benefits deductions, or work with those who do, please get in touch with benefit sanctions Research Fellow Caroline Selman.