The Government recognises the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt. Under Universal Credit there is a co-ordinated approach to deductions from benefit, which simplifies the current complex arrangements.
The aim of the deductions policy in Universal Credit is to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their gas, electricity and water cut off, by providing a last resort repayment method for arrears of these essential services.
Work has been done to increase awareness of advances and access to them for claimants, and to support this, new guidance has been issued to staff.
This guidance makes it clear that claimants should be made aware of advances, made aware of their maximum entitlement and informed that their entitlement will be adjusted over the relevant recovery period to take this into account. This increased awareness has resulted in around 60% of eligible new claims to Universal Credit receiving an advance in October 2018, providing further financial support until their first payment.
Of all eligible claims* to Universal Credit Full Service due a payment in October 2018, 53% (532,000 claims) had a deduction to their standard allowance.
Of these 532,000 claims with a deduction:
a) 53% (284,000 claims) had deductions up to 20% of the Standard Allowance (28% of all eligible claims).
b) 21% (113,000 claims) had deductions between 21% and 30% of the Standard Allowance (11% of all eligible claims).
c) 24% (129,000 claims) had deductions between 31% and 40% of their Standard Allowance (13% of all eligible claims).
d) 1% (6,000 claims) had deductions above 40% of their Standard Allowance (0.6% of all eligible claims).
*Eligible claimants are claimants that have satisfied all the requirements of claiming Universal Credit; they have provided the necessary evidence, signed their claimant commitment and are eligible and have recieved their first payment.
These figures do not include sanctions or fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions.
Claim numbers may not match official statistics caseloads due to small methodological differences.
Claim numbers are rounded to the nearest 1,000