Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Bill Grant Bill Grant Conservative, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of amending the universal credit payment system so that claimants paid on a four-weekly basis for part-time or casual work do not have their benefit payment substantially reduced as a result of receiving two work payments four weeks apart in one calendar month.

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. We have produced guidance to help ensure claimants, staff and representatives are aware and it 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

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.

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, and HMRC have recently updated guidance to reiterate to employers the importance of reporting accurate dates and the impact on payment cycles.

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