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More than half of Universal Credit claimants have money deducted from benefit payments

Deductions are automatically taken from benefits when a claimant has a debt to pay, but an MP argues they’re cruel and force a reliance on foodbanks

More than 50% of Universal Credit claimants have their benefits deducted – which an MP says is the ‘main supply route to food banks’.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures released yesterday reveal 53% of Universal Credit claimants had some cash taken out of their payments in October 2018.

Deductions – which differ from sanctions – are made when claimants owe money to utility companies or landlords. The automatic deductions are used to pay the outstanding debts.

But MP Frank Field, the chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee who requested the figures, says the deductions leave families unable to afford essentials and are “a main supply route to foodbanks “. He has called on energy companies to write-off debts for customers who genuinely cannot afford to pay.

But the DWP says the deductions are crucial to avoid tenants being evicted or having to deal with bailiffs.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “When claimants have housing or utility arrears, we make deductions from their benefits to help pay off debts and keep them in their homes.

“Safeguards are in place to ensure that deductions are affordable.”

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