PLP’s recommendations for Universal Credit deductions to be temporarily suspended and for increased awareness of hardship measures have been taken up by the Work and Pensions Committee as part of their cost of living inquiry.

Read PLP’s full evidence submission

We are pleased to see the Government take up these recommendations to avoid exacerbating the cost of living crisis in the short-term, but more action must be taken to address affordability and fairness in benefit deductions in the longer-term.

Our original recommendations to the Committee included:

  • 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).

Read PLP’s full evidence submission

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.