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Universal Credit: Overpayments

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 142916, tabled on 25 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit overpayments have been raised in the last 12 months; and how many of those payments were caused by a system error.

Answered on

28 January 2021

The Department is committed to ensuring that the right people are paid the right amount of Universal Credit. The vast majority of benefit expenditure is paid correctly, with front line staff working hard to prevent overpayments from occurring. We are constantly improving our processes and continue to invest in the use of data and analytics to identify fraud and error.

Where overpayments do occur, the Department has a duty to recover any debt quickly and efficiently. However, we recognise that there will be some claimants who may be experiencing financial difficulty, and anyone unable to afford the rate of recovery proposed is encouraged to contact DWP Debt Management to review the proposed rate of recovery.

During 2020 there were 290,057 Universal Credit (UC) overpayments recorded on the Department’s Debt Management system. The system does not capture how many of these overpayments were due to ‘system error’. The Department was called upon to process an additional 2.9 million UC claims from people who needed our immediate help as a result of the pandemic and there are currently 5.9 million UC claimants.

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