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Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of Carla Lockhart Carla Lockhart DUP, Upper Bann

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many times her Department has used its discretionary waiver in respect of universal credit overpayments as a result of Departmental error in each of the last three years.

Photo of Carla Lockhart Carla Lockhart DUP, Upper Bann

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many times her Department has used its discretionary waiver on health grounds in relation to universal credit over-payments as a result of Departmental error.

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

Waivers can only be granted by the Secretary of State where the recovery of an overpayment is causing substantial medical and/or financial hardship, and clear evidence of this can be provided. The discretion to waive benefit overpayments can only be exercised in line with Her Majesty’s Treasury’s guidance on ‘Managing Public Money’.

Prior to the start of 2019/20, the reason that the overpayment occurred (fraud, claimant error or Departmental error) was not recorded on waiver requests. Therefore, for the years 2017/18 and 2018/19, I have instead provided the total number of successful waivers. It is important to note that these may not all have been for overpayments arising as a result of Departmental errors.

In 2017/18, there were no waivers granted for Universal Credit overpayments. In 2018/19, there were 5 waivers granted for Universal Credit overpayments, of these, 4 were granted on medical grounds. In 2019/20 year to date, there were 3 waivers granted for Universal Credit overpayments, these were all granted on medical grounds.

*The data in this response 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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