To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he she has made of the cost to the public purse of removing the five-week wait for claimants of universal credit in possession of a DS1500.
No claimant has to go five weeks without receiving support, as advances, worth up to 100 per cent of a claimant’s indicative award, are available up front, if there is need. Advances are paid back over a period of 12 months and in the Autumn Budget 2018, we announced that from October 2021, the payback period for these advances will be extended further, up to 16 months. This is just one of a number of measures the Department has put in place to support claimants such as paying those claimants moving from Housing Benefit onto Universal Credit a two week ‘transitional housing payment’. We are also introducing a two-week run on for eligible claimants of Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance from July 2020.
No estimate of this nature has been made as the assessment period is a necessary and crucial part of the claim procedure. Claimants receive their first payment five weeks after the point of claim because an assessment period of four weeks is needed to calculate entitlement, followed by one week of payment processing.
We take terminal illness very seriously and treat people in such circumstances with the upmost speed and sensitivity. Our process for supporting people who have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less has been designed specifically to enable decisions to be fast tracked throughout the claim once the first payment has been made.