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Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA) – All You Need To Know!


Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA) – All You Need To Know!

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In the UK, there are multiple ways that someone you owe money to can recover the debt you owe them from your wages.

From Attachment of Earnings Orders to Deductions of Earnings Orders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; to Earning Arrestments, Conjoined Earning Arrestments and Maintenance Arrestments in Scotland.

Understandably, it can be confusing for anyone to understand the various procedures that are being used and why.

However, another procedure that can be used across the whole of the UK is known as a Direct Earnings Attachment.

What is a Direct Earnings Attachment?

A Direct Earnings Arrestment is used to recover benefit overpayments and covers all types of benefits that are administered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). They can also be used by local authorities to recover housing benefit overpayments.

When it is used to recover an overpayment of housing benefit, it is the local authority that instructs your employer to apply the DEA.

However, it’s important to note if you’re facing a DEA can make use of government legislation to write off unsecured debt, reduce monthly payments and stop pressure from the people they owe money to.

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How much can be taken if a DEA is applied?

When a DEA is applied for, there are three options available to the DWP or Local Authority.

  • First, they can apply for the Direct Earnings Attachment at the Standard Rate;
  • Second, they can apply for it at the Higher Rate;
  • Thirdly, they can request the DEA at a fixed rate.

Where the DEA is applied at the standard rate, the maximum that can be taken from someone’s wages is 20%; where it is applied for at the higher rate, up to 40% of someone’s net earnings can be taken.

The DEA, however, can never leave someone with less than 60% of their net income.

When the attachment is applied for at either the standard or higher rate, a sliding scale is used, with how much is to be deducted being based on a percentage and how much someone earnings are daily, weekly or monthly.

What happens if you have another arrestment on your earnings?

Direct Earning Arrestments are non-priority arrestments, so if another type of arrestment, like an Attachment of Earnings Order (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or an Earnings Arrestment (Scotland) is applied, then the DEA must give way to it.

This does not mean that both can be applied at the same time, but you can never be left with less than 60% of your net earnings.

Where the priority arrestment leaves you with less than 60% of your net earnings, then the DEA should not be applied. However, where it does not, but applying both at the same time would, then the DEA should only be applied partially.

If you have student loans being deducted from your earnings, these should also take priority.

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Fixed rates

It is also possible to contact either your local authority or the Department of Work and Pensions if you are suffering from hardship to request they set a fixed rate below the Standard or Higher Rates, or even to lift the Direct Earnings Arrestment and enter into an informal agreement with you to repay the overpayment at an agreed amount each month.

DEAs and formal debt solutions

It is the Department of Work and Pensions policy, as outlined in their Benefit Overpayment Recovery Guidance, to not recover benefit overpayments during a formal debt solution.

This includes formal debt solutions such as:

It is also their policy to not recover overpayment of benefits when someone enters into the Debt Arrangement Scheme in Scotland, if the debt is included into the Debt Arrangement Scheme.

In all cases, this also means lifting any Direct Earning Attachments that have been applied once the solution commences and making any refunds where the DEA continue after the solution commences.

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Amount of Net Earnings (Net earnings are gross pay, less income tax, Class 1 National Insurance and superannuation contributions)Deduction Rate to Apply (Standard)Deduction Rate to Apply (Higher)
Daily EarningsWeekly EarningsMonthly Earnings
Up to £15Up to £100Up to £430Nil5%
Between £15.01 and £23Between £100.01 and £160Between £430.01 and £6903%6%
Between £23.01 and £32Between £160.01 and £220Between £690.01 and £9505%10%
Between £32.01 and £39Between £220.01 and £270Between £950.01 and £11607%14%
Between £39.01 and £54Between £270.01 and £375Between £1160.01 and £161511%22%
Between £54.01 and £75Between £375.01 and £520Between £1615.01 and £224015%30%
£75.01 or more£520.01 or more£2240.01 or more20%40%


If you have a Direct Earnings Attachment and want to discuss it with a Creditfix advisor, call 0808 2234 102.

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