Underpayments withheld in full to offset overpayments

The Early Warning System has received a few cases regarding UC claimants not receiving ANY underpayments whilst there are outstanding benefit overpayments.

For people who have accrued (more) debts whilst waiting for their UC entitlement to be paid, withholding the funds in this way is crippling. And is unnecessary when overpayments can continue to be recovered by deduction without putting them into an even more precarious situation.

I’ve asked the DWP to clarify their internal guidance on when an underpayment should be withheld in full. So far, they’ve confirmed it is a decision to be made by debt management and that it CAN be withheld – but nothing further. I’m concerned that underpayments are being offset in full against overpayments by default, without any consideration at all of other options, even for claimants who have received no income for up to 6 months whilst a UC entitlement issue is resolved.

I wanted to check whether this is a prevalent issue before pursuing my FOI request further: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/debt_management_guidance_for_off

Is this an issue that you’ve come across? Would further clarification of the guidance assist?

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