Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 13th February 2019.

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Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons her Department's policy changed from live service universal credit to full service universal credit to end a claim after one month of zero award.

Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has conducted an impact assessment on the change in policy from live service universal credit to full service universal credit on the automatic ending of claims after a zero award.

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

Holding answer received on 12 February 2019

In both Live Service and Full Service, if a Universal Credit award is reduced to zero, for example as a result of increased earnings, then the Universal Credit award will end.

However, on Live Service if a claimant’s Universal Credit ended because earnings had reduced their award to zero and they subsequently had a change of circumstances that meant Universal Credit would become payable e.g. their earnings dropped, they would return to the same assessment period without having to make a new claim. This is as long as they made contact within 6 months of their previous award ending.

On Full Service, if a claimant’s Universal Credit award ended and they met certain conditions, they will also return to the same assessment period, however, they will need to make a new Universal Credit claim within 6 months of their previous award ending. This new claim is quicker and easier than the one they originally made, as they will only have to tell the department about any changes of circumstances which they have experienced since their previous award ended.

Claimants who become unemployed in a Full Service area also have to make a new claim within 7 days of their job ending (or have a good reason for not doing so) in order for them to be paid for the whole of the assessment period to which they return. If they do not, they will only receive a payment from the point they made their Universal Credit claim until the end of that assessment period.

The changes between Live and Full Service were made for a variety of reasons including:

  • to simplify the process and allow the vast majority of claimants who have short term breaks in entitlement to Universal Credit to return to the same assessment period rather than just those whose Universal Credit had ended because they had entered work;
  • to reduce the possibility of overpayments being made; and
  • to ensure claimants re-engage with conditionality as quickly as possible after their job has ended.

An equality analysis was produced for this change.

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