Ask CPAG Online - How do you challenge a decision about a universal credit advance?

This section looks at what you can do if you are unhappy with a decision on your universal credit advance, and want to challenge it.

Most decisions regarding universal credit advances involve the DWP exercising their discretion and under the law (Schedule 3, paragraph 14 of the the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013) do not carry the right of appeal to an independent tribunal. However, that does not apply to decisions about deductions from your UC to recover the advance. In any case, you can ask the DWP to reconsider the decision, although the official guidance does not say anything about this.

Have you been refused an advance or not awarded enough?

You do not have the right of appeal against a decision refusing to award you a universal credit advance, or about the amount of advance you have been awarded.

You can ask the DWP to reconsider the decision. However, the official guidance does not say anything about this. In practice, the DWP may well take a similar approach to that they take regarding applications for short-term benefit advances – see Ask CPAG – How do you challenge a decision about a short-term benefit advance?. Try to ask the DWP ‘agent’ who phones you about the decision to reconsider it during the call. Try to say why you disagree with the decision, pointing out the urgency of your need for an advance, and the threat to the health and safety of you or your family.

You can still try asking for a reconsideration after that conversation, if for example you were confused or upset during the conversation and did not think to ask for a reconsideration. In any case you should act quickly, as the longer you leave the request for a reconsideration the less likely the DWP are to accept your request.

Ultimately, the only legal challenge you can make against a decision refusing you a universal credit advance or about the amount you have been awarded is via judicial review in the courts. For a judicial review you should seek legal advice. Ask whether there is a charge for the advice, and about whether or not you might be subject to legal costs.

Are you unhappy with the decision regarding the repayment of your universal credit advance?

You do have the right of appeal to a tribunal against a decision regarding the repayment of the universal credit advance by deduction from subsequent payments of your benefit, including the rate of the reductions (Schedule 2, paragraph 14 of the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013 does allow appeals made under regulation 10 of the Social Security (Payments on Account of Benefit) Regulations 2013).

However, note that:

  • if the DWP think that you will not keep to the repayment terms that they are offering, they will not award you an advance at all;
  • appeals can take several months to be heard, and that the appeal tribunal does not have to make the decision that you want it to make.

You should still ask the DWP to reconsider that decision first. Your request can be made on the phone or in writing. If you remain unhappy with the DWPs reconsideration, you can appeal. For more information on appeals, see Chapter 57 of CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.