Social Security Benefits: Overpayments

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 19th July 2021.

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Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much her Department recovered from overpayments that were as a result of her Department's and not the claimant's error in each month in the most recent period for which figures are available; and what the average amount of overpayment due to her Department's error was recovered from each such claimant.

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

In the last month for which figures are available DWP paid out almost £3.5bn in Universal Credit and it should be noted that fraud and error in the benefits system remains low, with 95% of benefits, worth more than £200bn. paid correctly in 2020/21. Official Error overpayments remained at 0.4% of benefit expenditure last year, with UC Official Error Overpayments falling from 1.3% to 0.9%.

Deductions from UC are now capped at 25% (as of April 2021) having previously been 30%. Where requested deductions exceed the 25% maximum, or there is insufficient UC in payment for all deductions to be made, a priority order is applied, which determines the order in which items should be deducted. ‘Last resort’ deductions, such as rent or fuel costs, are at the top of the priority order, ensuring that claimant welfare is prioritised, followed by social obligation deductions, such as fines and child maintenance, and finally benefit debt, such as Social Fund loans and benefit overpayments.

Anyone with overpayment deductions who does experience financial hardship is encouraged to contact the Department’s Debt Management unit. Where a person cannot afford the proposed rate of these deductions, a lower amount can be negotiated.

Deductions in respect of UC Official Error debt for the last 6 months are shown below:


Value of in month recovery where debt category is official error

Average recovery per Customer in Month



















* The data shown in the above table is taken from operational data systems, and is not intended for publication. Therefore, the data itself is not quality assured to the standard of published Official Statistics and National Statistics.

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