WORKERS getting Universal Credit are being urged to check theirpay ahead of the May bank holiday so they don't lose out.
Employers often pay staff early if payday falls on the bank holiday Monday and that can affect some Universal Credit payments.
The earlier pay date means two pay packets can fall into one assessment period for Universal Credit.
This could push income above the threshold for claiming Universal Credit and leave claimants with less – and in the worst case, could lead to no payment at all.
The Department for Work and Pensions was forced to fix the technical issue after judges last year ruled it "irrational and unfair" .
This is done by moving the payment from one period to another and should happen without having to do anything.
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:
- Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.
- Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
- Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax by applying for a Council Tax Reduction. Alternatively, you might be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments to help cover your rent.
- Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
But experts recommend checking if they are paid early that Universal Credit payments are correct.
Whether someone is affected or not depends on when they are paid and when there assessment period is.
Rachel Ingleby, benefits expert at Citizens Advice said: “If you're due to be paid over the bank holiday then you might receive your wages early. This could mean you receive two salary payments in one monthly Universal Credit assessment period.
“While you shouldn’t need to take any action, it’s important to make sure your Universal Credit payments are calculated correctly.
“The DWP should automatically allocate the payment to a different assessment period. Usually this would be the next one, which is when you would have ordinarily received the payment.
"You can check to see if this has been accounted for via your online journal."
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
But there are big problems – it takes five weeks to get the first payment and this leaves some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working Brits can claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront.We’ve heard of families waiting up to six months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
The harsh taper rate also makes it hard for Brits to get back to work.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. Since December 2018, we've been calling for the government to:
- Get paid faster: The government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop millions from being pushed into debt.
- Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4million families.
- Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85% of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email [email protected] to share your story.
Citizens Advice recommends contacting the DWP if you have any difficulties.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We have changed the rules so that Universal Credit claimants getting two monthly pay packets in one assessment period can have their second payment moved to another assessment period.
"This gives claimants more stability in the amount of benefits they receive. If a claimant gets two monthly pay packets in one assessment period they should report it to their Work Coach.”
The bank holiday this year falls on May 3 and can also affect payment dates for Universal Credit and other benefits.
The DWP has confirmed when some payments will be made earlier.
Budding entrepreneurs on Universal Credit can get £1,274 to start their own business.
Meanwhile, Brits on Universal Credit can now get paid for up to 16 weeks while they re-train.
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