Debt Management guidance for offsetting underpayments

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Department for Work and Pensions should normally have responded promptly and by (details)

Kelly-Marie Jones

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Your Universal Credit underpayment guidance [http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPaper... states that “if arrears of Universal Credit are owed to a claimant but they have been separately overpaid, these arrears must be offered to Debt Management to help clear the overpayment. Debt Management decide if the arrears can be used to reduce the overpayment.”

Please kindly provide a copy of the guidance upon which Debt Management staff rely when deciding whether arrears may be used to reduce an overpayment.

Yours faithfully,

Kelly-Marie Jones
Child Poverty Action Group

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Operations FOI Team,

1 Attachment

Dear Kelly-Marie Jones,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 11
August.

Your response is attached

Yours sincerely,

DWP Operations FOI Team

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Thank you for your response of 21st August to my FOI request dated 11th August.

I asked for a copy of the guidance upon which Debt Management staff rely when deciding whether arrears may be used to reduce an overpayment, further to your Universal Credit underpayment guidance at http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPaper...
0980/139._Underpayments_v5.0.pdf.

You kindly referred me to paragraphs 5.49-5.55 of the Benefit Overpayment Recovery Guide available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk.... I regret that this does not answer my query.

That guidance states that "where a debtor with an outstanding overpayment is due arrears of benefit,
these arrears can be withheld in full to recover an overpayment or Administrative Penalty unless those arrears arose as a consequence of a benefit award being suspended" and goes on to detail when arrears of benefit cannot be witheld. I note the guidance says "can be withheld" and not "are" or "must be" withheld.

Please kindly clarify and/or provide a copy of the guidance upon which Debt Management staff rely when deciding whether arrears are used to reduce an overpayment.

Yours faithfully,

Kelly-Marie Jones

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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