Debt Respite Scheme

Treasury written question – answered on 22nd June 2021.

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Photo of Zarah Sultana Zarah Sultana Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of including universal credit advance payments in the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space).

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The breathing space scheme launched on 4 May 2021, and includes most personal debts and debts owed to Government, including Universal Credit overpayments. The Government considers that, for breathing space to be successful, it needs to include a wide range of debts.

The Government recognises the importance of including all Universal Credit debts in breathing space, and is committed to including Universal Credit advances within the scheme as soon as possible.

This will happen at a later date to ensure that the significant IT changes the Department for Work and Pensions needs to make do not compromise the safe delivery of Universal Credit, which is now supporting 6 million people. It has always been possible to defer repayments of Universal Credit Advances for 3 months in cases of hardship. In addition, from April 2021, the timeframe for the repayment of advances has been extended from 12 months to 24 months.

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