Social Security Benefits

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 3rd September 2019.

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Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 27 June 2019 to Question 268402, if she will place in the Library a copy of the dataset from which the median balance per debtor was calculated.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

A copy of the relevant dataset* will be placed in the Library.

In order to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations 2018, the dataset contains values only.

The data set shows all balances held on our systems for the relevant period. It includes ‘minus’ figures, which reflect changes made as a result of successful appeals.

The data does not include any Universal Credit overpayments. It includes debts accrued in a number of ways including Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit overpayments built up under HMRC as well as fraud and error overpayments.

Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit were introduced in 2003, with some people then accruing debts over many years.

We do not want people to face undue financial hardship as a result of repaying overpayments. If people do struggle, adjustments can be made and will be based on an individual’s circumstance.

The overall maximum amount that can be deducted from a claimant’s Universal Credit each month to recover a benefit overpayment is an amount equal to 40% of their Universal Credit standard allowance.

The vast majority of benefit payments are made correctly; this stock of debts equates to around 0.6% of current annual welfare expenditure. The legacy welfare system is complex in its structure and administration and in the way that qualifying conditions interact with each other. UC provides a single system of means-tested support for working-age households who are in or out of work and we expect this to reduce overpayments.

*The data provided has been sourced from internal management information and was not intended for public release. It should therefore not be compared to any other, similar data subsequently released by the Department.

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