Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 18th January 2019.

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Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect on the financial circumstances of universal credit claimants who receive their wages on a fixed day each month and therefore have multiple pay days during an assessment period; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Universal Credit payments reflect, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household during each monthly assessment period. Assessment periods allow for Universal Credit awards to be adjusted on a monthly basis, ensuring that if a claimant’s income falls, they do not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit award.

Some claimants receive earnings from work multiple times within an assessment period if they are paid via four-weekly, fortnightly, or weekly patterns. This in turn may reduce, or in some cases, nil the Universal Credit award the claimant receives that month. Claimants can always discuss the implications of this with their case managers and work coaches and can be referred to Personal Budgeting Support to help them manage their budgeting.

If a claimant’s Universal Credit claim is closed due to this, claimants can re-claim the following month via a more simplified process than for an initial claim. We have produced guidance to help ensure claimants, staff and representatives are aware of the importance of reporting accurate dates and the impact on payment cycles. This is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-different-earning-patterns-and-your-payments/universal-credit-different-earning-patterns-and-your-payments-payment-cycles

The Government is working with employers to ensure that they use the most appropriate payment practices and comply with RTI guidelines in order to minimise the incidence of erroneous or late reporting by employers. HMRC have recently updated guidance to reiterate to employers the importance of reporting accurate dates and the impact on payment cycles; the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is working closely with HMRC and employers to do this.

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