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Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Minister (Treasury)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what monitoring is undertaken of errors arising from the RTI system leading to overpayment of universal credit due to lack of notification of wages; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The amount of Universal Credit paid to claimants reflects the actual circumstances of a household during each monthly assessment period, as closely as possible.

Monthly assessment periods align to the way the majority of employees are paid and also allows Universal Credit to be adjusted each month. This means that if a claimant's income falls, they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit.

The IT systems between HMRC Real Time Information (RTI) system and the DWP are monitored 24/7 for any IT failures, so these can be addressed immediately. Universal Credit does not run its Payment Calculations until all earnings files transferred from HMRC are received. However, this does not address instances where an employer has failed to notify HMRC of earnings timeously. In these circumstances we have processes in place, including the opportunity for claimants to self-report earnings to help avoid overpayments.

The DWP has been working closely with HMRC since Universal Credit went live in 2013 to support and inform employers who report earnings to emphasise the importance of timely reporting via the Real Time Information (RTI) system.

HMRC have updated their guidance to reiterate to employers the importance of reporting accurate dates and the impact on payment cycles; the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is also working closely with HMRC and employers to do this.

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