Created 03/05/2021

A High Court Case, R (Blundell & Ors) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has ruled in favour of 4 claimants who were having large deductions taken from their Universal Credit for court fnes.

Shelter argued that
'the DWP’s deductions policy and approach to deductions unlawfully removes an important discretion prescribed by law. Regulation 4 of The Fines (Deductions from Income Support) Regulations 1992) provides the DWP discretion to deduct a minimum of 5% from peoples’ UC to pay back court fnes (and a maximum of £108.35). But the DWP’s blanket policy removes this discretion by setting a fxed maximum deduction of 30% and doesn’t allow claimants to request a lower deduction even in exceptional circumstances where they’re facing hardship.'

'The court ruled that by setting a fxed rate for deductions from UC for fnes, and the DWP’s infexible approach in making decisions on these cases, removes the discretion provided for in the relevant legislation. This is unlawful....The judge ordered that the relevant section in the deductions policy relating to fnes be amended to refect the judgment'

Shelter say- 'This judgment means that the DWP must change the deductions policy and guidance to include discretion for DWP decision makers. This means UC claimants can ask the DWP to lower the amount deducted for court fne payments if they are struggling to get by. Pending changes to the policy, welfare beneft advisors and claimants can apply the judgment when making requests for the deduction to be lowered. This will hopefully help those people already struggling on already very limited means.

The DWP applied for permission to appeal the decision, and this has been granted by the High Court. However, as explained above claimants can rely on the judgment immediately.'

We have two courses on UC which include this issue-

More basic- An Overview of Universal Credit 2021
More advanced- Universal Credit – the Tricky Parts 2021