Universal credit deductions when you owe money

Your universal credit can be reduced to repay money you owe to people like your landlord and energy company.

When deductions can be made

Money can be taken from your universal credit when there’s no other way for you to repay debts for things like:

  • rent and service charges
  • mortgage interest
  • gas, electricity and water
  • council tax

Alongside debt repayments, your universal credit can be lowered if you owe money for:

  • advances
  • sanctions
  • overpayments

How deductions are made

Your landlord, utility company or local council can apply for money to be taken from your universal credit if you owe them money.

A universal credit adviser will then decide how much can be deducted from your benefits.

In most cases, the money will be taken automatically and you won’t need to give your permission.

The deduction will show in your online account. If no information is given about what the money is being taken for, leave a message in your journal or ring the universal credit helpline and ask for clarification.

Call 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm

How much can be deducted

Only 5% can be taken from the main part of your universal credit – called the standard allowance – for each debt you owe.

The exceptions are:

  • rent arrears – taken at between 10% and 20% of your standard allowance
  • court fines – deductions are made at a minimum of 5% of your standard allowance and a maximum of £108

Usually the total amount of deductions that can be made is up to 30% of your standard allowance for only 3 debts at a time.

If you’ve got more than 3 debts, there’s a priority order they’ll be taken in.

Sometimes, more than 30% of your standard allowance can be taken from your universal credit if it’s thought to be in your best interests. For example, if it could help you to keep your home.

Find out what your options are if universal credit deductions are making it hard for you to manage

Last updated 04 Dec 2019 | © Shelter

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