These letters can be used to challenge the level of deductions from UC where your client is experiencing financial hardship.
JR34 Refusal to reduce rent arrears deduction below 20% (when total deductions are less than 25%) (last updated April 2021)
JR33 UC Deductions exceed 25% of standard allowance (last updated April 2021) (client not in work - deductions in this letter include UC advances (not new claim advance), rent arrears and a tax credit o/p, the total of which exceed 25% of the client's standard allowance) This letter is complex, please contact us for assistance including if your client does not have all / has different deductions than detailed in the template. There is an index to the letter at end of the document, you may find it useful to look at this first to see how the letter is structured and what changes you will need to make. Note that when you have finished, you need to update the index to include page numbers.
JR55 Refusal to reduce deductions for fines below 30% (last updated Nov 2019) This matter has recently been decided in the claimants' favour by the High Court and DWP are not appealing. Before sending a pre-action letter, your client can contact DWP via their UC journal, cite the High Court decision and point out that the DWP has decided not to appeal (although in any event there was no stay of the decision), in Blundell it was held that the policy and decisions regarding max rate deductions was unlawful and that the DWP decision maker should consider the claimant’s circumstances and lower the deduction accordingly. If DWP continue to refuse, then a PAP should be sent with the inclusion of the Blundell decision - template JR55 will be updated in due course.
JR86 Refusal to reduce deduction for recovery of hardship payments (last updated June 2020)
From 12 April 2021 these letters should be editted in line with the March 2021 Budget announcement: "From next month [April 2021] new claimants will be able to spread Universal Credit advances repayments over a 24-month period and the maximum rate of deductions from Universal Credit will be reduced for all to 25%. Reducing the maximum deduction rate to 25% of a claimant’s standard allowance will allow more than 350,000 families with significant debts to retain more of their monthly award for their day-to-day needs." DWP Touchbase 5th March 2021
In response to COVID-19 DWP announced that for 3 months from April 2020:
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.
Judicial review litigation
Please let us know if DWP refuse to exercise discretion in response to these letters. 2 negative decisions have been reported in response to JR55 and representation has been secured to issue judicial review proceedings.
Please also let us know if DWP refuse to reduce the level of deductions for a UC advance in response to JR33 or otherwise.