To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of universal credit claimants who have had a (a) waiver and (b) reduction in deductions to their monthly payments on the grounds of hardship in the latest period for which figures are available.
The Department has an obligation to ensure that public funds are administered responsibly and to abide by the principles set out in Her Majesty’s Treasury’s guidance on Managing Public Money. Waiver applications have to be considered in line with this guidance. Debts can only be waived if recovery is causing substantial medical and/or financial hardship to a claimant or their immediate family.
In 2019/20 (up to 31st December 2019), there were 10 Universal Credit claimants who had their debts waived.
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.
In 2019/20 (up to 31st December 2019), 159,000 Universal Credit claimants had the rate at which they were repaying a benefit overpayment reduced.
*The figures provided in this response have been sourced from internal management information and were not intended for public release. They should therefore not be compared to any other similar figures subsequently released by the Department. The figure relating to the number of debts waived has been rounded to the nearest 10, and the figure relating to reductions in repayment rates has been rounded to the nearest 1,000. It is important to note that debts waived may not all relate to Universal Credit.