To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of including a universal credit claim start date selection section, within the universal credit initial claim form, to enable clearer claim backdating for people who would be eligible under regulation 26 of the Claims and Payments Regulations.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the (a) accessibility of the universal credit claim backdating process for eligible applicants and (b) adequacy of the information provided to applicants that they may be eligible to backdate a claim.
We encourage all people to engage with us at their point of need, and as the vast majority of Universal Credit claims are successfully made online, most will not require backdating. However, backdating provision, of up to a maximum of one month, is available where the circumstances are such that someone could not reasonably have been expected to claim earlier, including due to illness, disability or an official computer system failure.
The Department works in partnership with a variety of stakeholders, including local authorities, charities and employer groups, as well as through our local Jobcentres, to distribute factual information on the range of benefits that people could be entitled to.
To support people in making the right decisions we also launched a new microsite within the ‘Understanding Universal Credit’ website, to help people navigate the range of support available and apply for it. Additionally, we also encourage the use of independent benefits calculators (available via www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators) to ensure individuals can navigate the welfare system and decide what is right for their circumstances.
However, we recognise that some people will still require additional support to successfully submit a claim to Universal Credit. From 1 April 2020 the Department has provided a second year of grant funding to Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland to continue to deliver Help to Claim. Help to Claim offers trusted, independent, tailored, practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim and receive their first full correct payment on time. It is available across England, Wales and Scotland and is usually available online, over the phone and face to face through local Citizens Advice services. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, face to face access was temporarily suspended with the required support being provided through the telephony and web chat channels.