COMMONS

Domestic abuse risks of Universal Credit single payments

18 April 2018

The Work and Pensions Committee holds a one-off evidence session on the potential impact of the way Universal Credit must be paid as a single payment to a household, rather than to individual claimants, on survivors of domestic abuse.

Withholding money to exert control

Under these circumstances, there is a risk of "financial abuse": the paid partner withholding money to exert control and make it difficult for the other partner to leave. The only alternative currently offered by DWP – one partner requesting separate payments – carries the obvious risk of further violence and abuse when the abusive partner inevitably finds out. 

However, when the Committee recently raised these twin concerns with the Department (PDF PDF 217 KB), it was told in a reply from Family Support and Children's Minister Kit Malthouse (PDF PDF 406 KB) that the abuse risk attendant on single payments already exists with other benefits paid that way: "this is not a new scenario … so the implication that UC will exacerbate the issue of domestic violence is completely without foundation".

The Department also maintains that because of the recognised risk to the abused partner of requesting a split payment "the Government would not want the Committee to make the mistake of thinking that the greater use of split payments can help tackle the scourge of domestic violence".

Witnesses

Wednesday 18 April 2018, Wilson Room, Portcullis House

At 10.00am

  • Nicola Kyser-Forrest - Homelessness Service Manager and Temporary Accommodation and Support Service Team Manager, Calderdale MBC
  • Melissa Altman, Director of Domestic Violence and Abuse Services, Advance
  • Demelza Lobb, Head of Tech Abuse, Refuge

At approximately 10.45am

  • Marilyn Howard - Research Associate, University of Bristol. Leader of research into financial abuse and Universal Credit at Women's Aid
  • Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs - Director and founder of Surviving Economic Abuse

The Committee will also take evidence in private from survivors of domestic abuse in the course of this inquiry. 

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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