Universal Credit: Separation

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 16th November 2018.

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Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Shadow Lord President of the Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether there is provision in place to equalise universal credit entitlement when a couple separates.

Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Shadow Lord President of the Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department takes to ensure that there is a fair division when recovering advance payments when a couple separate.

Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Shadow Lord President of the Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department take steps to ensures that the remaining claimant of universal credit is not held fully responsible for unpaid advance payments when a couple separates.

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

When a couple separates and still require the support of Universal Credit they will claim separately and as such the two claimants will be treated as entirely separate claims and will have their entitlements and therefore award amounts treated accordingly.

If an advance has been awarded to a couple and the couple subsequently separate, they will be equally liable to repay the advance.

When a couple separates, and an advance has not been recovered from the associated benefit claim because the claim ends or there was no entitlement to that benefit, the outstanding balance is treated as if it were an overpayment. This would then be recoverable (as per Section 71 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992) at the standard overpayment rate.

After separation, if a couple have an overpayment for which they are both equally liable, the debt is apportioned equally. Once this apportionment has been done we will not reverse the split liability decision. Any debt for which only one member of a couple is liable will follow that person on separation.

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