The welfare debt trap: Adjusting the level and priority of deductions from benefits to prevent hardship
The majority of deductions from benefits are for money owed to the Department for Work and Pensions itself. Evidence shows that the deductions applied are pushing people into hardship and driving them to access crisis support.
Deductions are taken in priority order, with those for advance payments taken first. This sits at odds with the debt prioritisation process, where debts are ranked according to risk and places repaying DWP over things like court fines and rent arrears
In the short term, three simple changes would make a big difference:
All DWP debts should be consolidated and capped at the same 5% as most third party deductions.
Changing the priority order so claimants first have deductions taken for debts where non-payment would have the most serious consequences.
Ending the practice of reclaiming money overpaid due to DWP mistakes.