As a Department, we understand the impact that debt can have on the wellbeing of claimants and we endeavour to ensure that the recovery of any overpayment is managed in a way that takes account of the claimant’s individual circumstances. Where a person says they cannot afford the proposed rate of recovery, a reduction in their rate of repayment may be agreed.
Section 105 of The Welfare Reform Act 2012 amended the Social Security Act 1992, such that for Universal Credit, New Style JSA and New Style ESA, any payment in excess of the entitlement is recoverable, regardless of how the overpayment of entitlement occurred. This policy was brought in to reflect the need for a better value for money welfare system and to reinforce the overarching aim that Universal Credit mirrors work.
In 2018/19, working with local authorities, the Department recovered £1.1bn in overpayments. Of this, £19.3m related to Universal Credit overpayments arising as a result of Departmental errors.