If you get income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income related employment and support allowance or pension credit
Deductions can be made from your benefit if:1Sch 9 para 6(1) SS(C&P) Regs
•your arrears for gas or electricity are greater than the IS rate for a single person aged 25 and above (£77 in 2022/23); and
•you continue to need a fuel supply; and
•it is in your best interests, or those of your family, for direct payments to be made.
You are normally refused if:
•the above do not apply; or
•your supplier does not agree to you paying this way; or
•you have a prepayment meter which has been reset to collect arrears. (If your prepayment meter is for current consumption only, however, you could still have any arrears paid by Fuel Direct.)
Deductions can be made to cover arrears, or just to cover weekly costs after the debt has been cleared, or both.2Sch 9 para 6(4) SS(C&P) Regs
◦The maximum statutory deduction that can be made for electricity or gas is £3.85 for each fuel debt in 2022/23.
◦There is a total maximum deduction of £7.70 altogether for gas and electricity arrears.3Sch 9 para 6(2) and 1(1) SS(C&P) Regs
•For current consumption.
◦Your supplier gives the DWP an estimate of your weekly consumption. This is usually calculated by looking at your consumption over the past year. If the amounts suggested seem high, ask for an explanation – errors are not uncommon. Check that your supplier is not relying on estimated figures.
◦The final decision on the amounts deducted rests with the DWP decision maker, who is not bound to accept the supplier’s estimates.4Sch 9 para 6(4) SS(C&P) Regs ◦The maximum deduction that can be made without your consent is 25 per cent of your IS, JSA or ESA ‘applicable amount’ or PC ‘minimum guarantee’ (your entitlement before any deductions for income, etc. are made). If you get child tax credit (CTC) this calculation is 25 per cent of the total of your CTC, child benefit and IS/JSA/ESA applicable amount or PC minimum guarantee (before housing costs are included). This includes the combined amount of the deductions for arrears and current consumption.5Sch 9 para 8 SS(C&P) Regs
Other debts can also be paid by direct deductions from benefit, and payment of these may be in competition with payments for fuel. The number of deductions for arrears is limited to a maximum of three and a priority order applies. If you have both gas and electricity arrears, the DWP decides which debt takes priority.