Department for Work and Pensions
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Recovery of benefit overpayment suspended

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions has temporarily paused the recovery of benefit overpayments, for three months.

The change means many claimants will see an increase in the amount of money they receive in benefits during the outbreak.

It will also allow the department to move a significant number of staff to front line roles, so it can focus on getting money to those who need support, following a significant increase in claims over the last two weeks.

Deductions for the recovery of Universal Credit and legacy benefit overpayments, Social Fund loans and Tax Credit debts will be paused.

The majority of deductions will be suspended automatically, however if you currently make repayments through a Bank Standing Order, Bank Giro Credit or through online banking, please contact your bank to cancel your arrangement.

The recovery of advances by deduction from Universal Credit payments will continue. 

A significant number of debt recovery staff have been redeployed, with plans to release more in the coming days, as a result and will take up front line roles to focus on getting money to those who are most in need of support. 

10,000 existing staff are being moved to front line roles and the department has announced it is recruiting more.

Additional information

  • The recovery of Advances by deduction from Universal Credit payments will continue.
  • Local Authorities will suspend referral of Housing Benefit overpayments.
  • The transfer of Tax Credit debt from HMRC has already been suspended.
  • We are stopping debt recovery activity as soon as possible. This includes all benefit-related overpayments, Social Fund loans and Tax Credit debts. Many activities will cease immediately but others may take longer to implement.
  • For citizens who are not on benefits, we have directed private sector debt collection agencies to stop their activity for Debt Management customers.
  • We are also suspending voluntary debt repayments and recovery by Direct Earnings Attachments.

Contact Press Office

Media enquiries for this press release – 020 3267 5144

Press Office

Caxton House
Tothill Street

London Press Office (national media and London area enquiries only – not questions about personal claims) 020 3267 5144

Out-of-hours (journalists only) 07623 928 975

England and Wales (local media enquiries) 029 20 586 then 097 or 098 or 099

Scotland (local media enquiries) 0131 310 1122

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