In November 2021 alone, £267,000 was deducted from households in the area at an average cost of £62 deduction per claimant household, according to official figures.
This was mainly to pay back the loans issued by the DWP to cover the five-week waiting period at the beginning of a new Universal Credit claim (44 per cent) or to repay historic tax credit overpayments (15 per cent).
Commenting on the figures, Martyn Day, MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, said: “These deductions are nothing short of a poverty tax on people who are struggling to heat their homes and feed themselves and their families.”
He added: “Universal Credit is meant to be a subsistence benefits that covers basic living costs. If over £60 is being deducted from claimants, when we are facing the sharpest decline in real incomes since the 1970s, how are people meant to survive?
“To help tackle this issue upfront loans must be replaced by upfront grants, recovery of tax credit overpayments should be capped at a lower level, and debts that have not been pursued for more than six years should be written off entirely, in line with the approach taken in the private sector.”