Universal Credit and Financial Abuse

Date Posted: Tuesday 27th February 2018

WBG and EVAW 2018 briefing on Universal Credit and financial abuse.

Social SecurityUniversal Credit


The Women’s Budget Group and the Ending Violence Against Women Coalition have released a joint briefing on Universal Credit and financial abuse.

You can download a PDF version of the briefing hereWe are releasing a full report on the issue, due out in May.


Key points:

  • The default system of paying Universal Credit as a single monthly payment to a couple can give abusive partners further opportunities to exert financial control over their partners.
  • Having split payments as an ‘exception’ rather than a rule puts survivors in the position of having to disclose financial abuse and to manage the consequences of the abuser finding out.
  • Financial abuse entails reducing a partner’s access to money and resources, and sabotaging work efforts. It has been estimated to affect as many as one in five adults, making it harder for a survivor to leave an abusive relationship.

We fear that the routine application of a single monthly payment can give perpetrators further mechanisms of financial control, putting survivors at greater risk of abuse and limiting their access to the benefit they are entitled to. Having split payments as a discretionary ‘exception’ in cases of financial abuse or mismanagement requires a survivor (or a support worker on their behalf) to disclose abuse in order to apply, and if awarded, to suffer any consequences when the abusive partner’s UC is reduced.

DWP could follow the approach being developed in Scotland (and Northern Ireland) where the UC award is split between both partners as a matter of routine.