What to do about universal credit deductions for debt

If you are struggling because of deductions from your universal credit, you could ask for:

  • lower deductions for rent arrears

  • a delay or extension to repaying an advance

  • cancellation of deductions if you can set up a more affordable repayment plan directly with your landlord, council, energy or water supplier

Who to speak to

Leave a message in your universal credit journal if you want to discuss deductions for:

  • universal credit advances

  • budgeting advances

  • rent or council tax arrears

  • gas, electricity or water debts

You can also call the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644

Keep trying if you do not get a response.

DWP debt management

This team deals with money owed to the DWP for:

  • budgeting loans

  • hardship payments

  • overpayments of benefits and tax credits

You can call DWP debt management on 0800 916 0647

DWP debt management writes to you to let you know they will start making deductions if they find an overpayment has been made.

Find out more about DWP debt and overpayments from StepChange debt charity.

What to say

Tell the DWP you cannot meet your living costs. Show them your income and outgoings.

Say if there are special reasons why you cannot afford the deductions.

For example, if your work hours and income have gone down.

Universal credit advances and budgeting advances

Ask your work coach or UC helpline adviser to:

  • delay deductions for a universal credit advance for up to 3 months

  • extend the repayment period for a budgeting advance up to 18 months

You can use our template.

Rent arrears

If you owe at least 2 months' rent, your landlord can ask for deductions to pay off the arrears.

You should have the chance to say if you disagree with the amounts.

There are rules about how much can be taken each month for rent arrears.

The figures in this table are rounded to the nearest pound.

Monthly deductions for rent arrears from April 2022MinimumMaximum
Single person under 25£27£53
Single person aged 25 or over£33£67
Couple - both under 25£42£83
Couple - either of you aged 25 or over£53£105

Ask for lower deductions if they are more than the minimum and you cannot afford it.

Total maximum monthly deductions for debt

The figures in this table are rounded to the nearest pound.

Total maximum monthly deductions from April 2022
Single person under 25£66
Single person aged 25 or over£84
Couple - both under 25£104
Couple - either of you aged 25 or over£131

The DWP can only take more than this as a last resort to help stop an eviction or your gas or electricity being cut off.

If you are in a breathing space scheme the DWP must not make deductions for benefits overpayments or start new deductions for debts like:

  • rent arrears

  • council tax

  • gas, electricity or water

How to challenge a decision

You can ask for a review if you think the DWP has made a wrong decision about deductions from your universal credit. This review is called a mandatory reconsideration.

Citizens Advice explains how to ask for a review.

Negotiating rent arrears and other debts

You can ask your landlord, council or utility provider if you can set up an affordable repayment plan directly with them. 

They can tell the DWP to cancel the repayments coming out of your universal credit.

The DWP cannot make more than 3 deductions each month for third party debts.

A debt adviser could help you negotiate.

Your supplier can no longer ask the DWP to pay them directly for energy you will use in future.

Find out about emergency grants, loans and money help if deductions make it hard for you to buy food or pay rent and bills.

GOV.UK has information about paying your bills from your benefits.

Last updated: 24 April 2022

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