Universal Credit: Coronavirus

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Steve Reed Steve Reed Shadow Minister (Education) (Children and Families)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will reduce the five-week waiting time to receive a first payment of universal credit in the event of an outbreak of covid-19.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

DWP has contingency plans in place that prioritise activities to protect payments to claimants and access to new claims when capacity is compromised.

Our jobcentre staff gauge claimants’ financial need and as part of this, every claimant can access an advance of up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months.

Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months.

Claimants can discuss queries about how fluctuating income effects Universal Credit with jobcentre staff and case managers, who can also signpost to services appropriate to the individual circumstances.

Universal Credit takes earnings into account in a way that is fair and transparent. The amount paid reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household during each monthly assessment period. This allows Universal Credit awards to be adjusted on a monthly basis, ensuring that if claimant’s incomes falls, they do not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit award. Currently there are no plans to change assessment periods.

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