Help to understand debts and deductions taken from Universal Credit payments and who to contact about your debts and deductions if you're struggling financially.
Universal Credit can take money off your payment if you have a debt. You will see this on your Universal Credit statement.
To find your statement, sign into your online account and go to ‘Payments’. On your statement, look for ‘What we take off – deductions’.
Who to contact about money taken off your payment
This depends on what the deduction is for. Find out who to contact.
Types of debt
This is your repayment of a Universal Credit advance.
Universal Credit overpayment
This is when you have been paid too much Universal Credit. To find out more about your overpayment, sign into your online Universal Credit account. Go to your journal and look for a message about overpayments.
If you believe you have been overpaid but have not heard from Universal Credit, you need to contact Universal Credit to tell them about this.
This is when you have been paid too much for any benefit other than Universal Credit. It includes Tax Credit and housing benefit overpayments.
Penalties can be added to a benefit overpayment.
If you have been overpaid, you will have a journal message or letter explaining what the overpayment is for.
If you believe you have been overpaid but have not heard from DWP, you must report it immediately. If not, you may be prosecuted or have to pay a penalty.
Recoverable hardship payment
You can apply for a hardship payment if your Universal Credit payment has been reduced because of a fraud penalty or sanction.
You will need to pay this back once your fraud penalty or sanction has ended. When the amount you pay back has been agreed it cannot be changed.
Budgeting and crisis loan repayment
This is your repayment of a budgeting or crisis loan. How much you pay back is agreed at the time you accept the loan.
Other debts you owe – ‘third party deductions’
Third party deductions are when money is taken off your Universal Credit to pay your debts for things including:
- utilities, like electricity, gas and water
- Council Tax
- child maintenance
- service charges
- court fines
Only 3 third party deductions can be taken at any one time.
Universal Credit will send you a message in your online journal when a third party deduction starts.
How much will be taken off your Universal Credit payment
Universal Credit calculate the amount taken from your payment at the end of every assessment period (one calendar month).
The amount taken off may change if your:
- earnings change
- other benefits change
It is not possible to tell you how much will be taken before this calculation takes place.
Normally the most that can be taken from your payment is 25% of your Universal Credit Standard Allowance. This is the basic amount you are entitled to, before money for things like childcare and housing costs are added.
You may have more than 25% of your Standard Allowance taken off if you pay a ‘last resort deduction’. A ‘last resort deduction’ helps to prevent you from being evicted or having your utilities cut off. It is paid directly to the person or organisation you owe money to.
What to do if you’re struggling to repay your debt
If you’re struggling, you can ask for a financial hardship decision to reduce the amount of benefit debt you pay.
You may be considered for this if you have money taken from your Universal Credit for:
- benefit debt
- Budgeting Loan and Crisis Loan repayment
- rent arrears (if they’re taken at a rate greater than 10% of the standard allowance)
If a decision is made to reduce the amount you pay, it will be applied automatically to your next Universal Credit assessment period.
Advice on money and debt
You can get help and advice from the government, local councils and other organisations.