Evidence supplied by University of Bath Universal Credit specialist, Dr Rita Griffiths, has been used in the publication of a new House of Commons, Work and Pensions Committee report on the cost of living crisis, published today.

Drawing on evidence supplied by Dr Griffiths, the Cost of Living Report (published 27 July 2022) suggests that automatic deductions taken out of people’s benefits should be paused as claimants struggle with soaring costs.

Such deductions are taken from people’s benefits to pay off debts owed to government, local authorities and third parties. These could include debts for advance payments of Universal Credit, or for rent or council tax arrears.

As highlighted in the report, Dr Griffiths from the University of Bath’s Institute for Policy Research, said: “A swift and readily implementable measure to give claimants some ‘breathing space’ during the current cost of living crisis would be to pause all deductions for a period of time while options for a more sustained reform of the policy are debated and worked up.

“The precedent for this already exists. In April 2020, deductions for the recovery of Universal Credit, tax credit and legacy benefit overpayments, and Social Fund loans, were paused for three months during the first Covid-19 lockdown. A similar, but longer pause would make a huge difference to households struggling in the current cost of living crisis."