To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to reduce length of time it takes for a claimant to receive their first universal credit payment after the claimant’s first assessment period has ended.
The Department has implemented a range of measures to support claimants during the transition to Universal Credit. New claimants can apply for a Universal Credit advance within 72 hours and can receive payment within a day if needed. We have previously increased the maximum amount available for advances from 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the claimant’s total indicative award, and have increased the repayment period from 6 months to 12 months.
Since April 2018 Housing Benefit claimants moving on to Universal Credit are also provided with a ‘transition to Universal Credit housing payment’, equivalent to 2 weeks of housing costs. Additionally, Autumn Budget 2018 announced plans to introduce, from July 2020, a two-week run-on of Employment Support Allowance Income Related (ESA IR), income based Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support (IS) which provides an extra two weeks of benefits for people moved onto Universal Credit from those benefits. These run-on payments are intended to help claimants during their first assessment period, as they wait for their first monthly payment, and do not need to be repaid.