Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for Communities how many cases of Universal Credit overpayment have occurred due to departmental error; and what measures she will take to alleviate the consequent hardship for claimants.
Minister for Communities: Information requested on the number of Universal Credit cases with an overpayment is not currently available.
We are working to improve the range of data available to us.
My Department is obliged to consider the recoverability of all Universal Credit overpayments, irrespective of how the overpayment arose. However, we can and do apply discretion in respect of the issue of recoverability.
We advise all people with an overpayment to contact our Debt Management Centre in the first instance. This is their opportunity to tell us how recovery of the overpayment is impacting them, either financially or through ill-health. All cases are dealt with on their individual merits.
I am keen to make sure we deliver a service that is empathetic and protects the most vulnerable in our society. I can assure you that we will continue to review our approach here to make sure it meets that test.