Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 24th July 2020.

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Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the cost to the public purse of ending the five-week wait for a first universal credit payment.

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

It is not possible to award a Universal Credit payment as soon as a claim is made, as the assessment period must run its course before entitlement to Universal Credit can be calculated.

Advances allow new claimants to request additional support during the first assessment period. Advances can be repaid over a year, allowing new claimants to receive 13 payments during that period instead of 12. We have temporarily increased the Standard Allowance by £86.67 a month (equivalent to £20 per week, or £1040 per year). For many claimants, this additional amount will cover the average £54 per month advance repayment.

A non-repayable grant at the outset of a claim would potentially increase fraud and error levels and become susceptible to organised criminal activity. It may also encourage more speculative UC claims, potentially repeatedly, in order to access funds.

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