‘Last resort’ Universal Credit deductions top £39m

Figure for sums taken for essential services in October last year is up from a £9m statistical start in April 2017.

Latest stats show monthly essential services deductions from Universal Credit (UC) claimants’ standard allowances have topped £39,000,000 – with the on-going pattern showing potential to rise even higher.

DWP minister Alok Sharma acknowledges that the increase in UC caseload and activity to increase awareness of advances has had an effect on deductions.

Answering a written Commons question, Sharma said: “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.”

Labour’s Ruth George had asked how much has been deducted from claimants’ standard allowance in each month since April 2017.

The aim of the deductions policy in UC 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.

Sharma cited figures from two DWP datasets, detailing total amounts deducted from UC payments between April 2017 and October 2018:

Month

Amount deducted [rounded to the nearest million]

Amount of Universal Credit paid [rounded to the nearest million]

Amount deducted as a percentage of Universal Credit paid

Apr-17

£9,000,000

£140,000,000

7%

May-17

£10,000,000

£148,000,000

7%

Jun-17

£10,000,000

£159,000,000

6%

Jul-17

£11,000,000

£166,000,000

6%

Aug-17

£11,000,000

£176,000,000

6%

Sep-17

£12,000,000

£186,000,000

6%

Oct-17

£13,000,000

£195,000,000

7%

Nov-17

£13,000,000

£205,000,000

7%

Dec-17

£15,000,000

£216,000,000

7%

Jan-18

£17,000,000

£232,000,000

7%

Feb-18

£19,000,000

£243,000,000

8%

Mar-18

£22,000,000

£257,000,000

8%

Apr-18

£23,000,000

£266,000,000

9%

May-18

£25,000,000

£284,000,000

9%

Jun-18

£27,000,000

£319,000,000

8%

Jul-18

£29,000,000

£335,000,000

9%

Aug-18

£32,000,000

£360,000,000

9%

Sep-18

£35,000,000

£380,000,000

9%

Oct-18

£39,000,000

£410,000,000

10%

Figures are provided for the total of UC Live Service and Full Service, with data sourced from two different computer systems and the information available slightly different on each system.

Full Service deductions include advance repayments and all other deductions, but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties, which are deductions of benefit rather than deductions.

Live Service deductions do not include sanctions which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions, but may include Fraud Penalties, as these could not be removed from the Live Service data.

The Full and Live Service datasets use slightly different definitions for the month.

Full Service data uses the month the UC payment is due.

Live Service data uses the month that the assessment period related to the payment ends. The ‘Total’ column sums the figures using these different definitions.

Increase in the total deduction amounts by month reflects the effect of UC rollout as more people move onto the benefit.

Amount of UC paid reflects the amount of money paid to claimants and their landlords as part of their award – it does not include other payments such as advances and hardship payments.

The DWP stresses the stats are provisional and are subject to retrospective change as later data becomes available.

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