Our series of briefings, 'Voices from the Frontline', demonstrates the impact of changes to the UK social security system on people in Scotland. This latest briefing considers the impact of deductions from Universal Credit payments.
DWP can make deductions to a UC payment if the claimant:
- Has received an overpayment of benefit
- Is in arrears (rent; gas; electric; Council Tax; water and sewerage; some loans and fines, and child support maintenance)
A maximum of 40% of a claimant’s UC monthly standard allowance may be deducted, with no more than three deductions made at a time. Most deductions can be made without the claimant’s consent. Whilst we recognise that deductions may be a suitable way for some claimants to manage their arrears and overpayments, evidence from CAB suggests that the maximum deduction rate is too high and is frequently applied without taking a holistic overview of the claimant's circumstances. This can leave claimants in significant financial hardship, often either unable to afford or having to choose between essentials such as food and energy, and/or trapping claimants in a cycle of debt.
This Voices from the Frontline outlines some of the cases that Scottish CAB are seeing, the detriment that deductions can cause and makes recommendations for positive change.