In the Autumn Budget, the Government announced some changes to how Universal Credit claimants will be paid. These changes will be introduced gradually, but should help alleviate some of the hardship caused by the previously long waiting times for initial Universal Credit payments.
The Government is proposing to provide more support through the following:
- In December 2017, new claimants will be able to receive an advance of 50% of their monthly entitlement at the start of their claim for UC. A second advance will take this up to 100% in the New Year, before their first payment.
- In January 2018, all new Universal Credit claimants will be eligible for a 100% advance on their first Universal Credit payment within 5 working days of making their claim, which will be interest free. Recovery of this Benefit Advance will be extended from the current 6-month repayment period, to 12 months.
- From February 2018, the 7-day waiting period will be abolished on all Universal Credit claims. This will take the waiting period for initial payments from 6 weeks to 5.
- From April 2018, claimants receiving Housing Benefit prior to their Universal Credit application will continue to receive Housing Benefit for the first two weeks of their Universal Credit claim. This will reduce the waiting time previous Housing Benefit claimants will have to wait for rent costs when they apply for Universal Credit from 6 weeks to 4.
The Department for Work and Pensions stated that they would be ‘making it easier for claimants to continue having their housing costs paid directly to landlords once they are on Universal Credit.’ The Department of Work and Pensions have not, as yet, alluded to how they will be making this change, or when this will be being rolled out.
Nick Atkin, Group Chief Executive at Halton Housing said:
‘Halton Housing welcomes the positive shift in approach by the Government. We have consistently supported the overarching principle of Universal Credit which simplifies the entire process for claimants. The significant financial hardship we have seen a number of our customers endure has been due to the administrative flaws in the process.’
‘Our four separate evidence submissions to the Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry on UC have shared what we have learnt over the last 16 months of Full Service UC in Halton. It is disappointing that several of the solutions we have offered to address these problems, and make UC work are still to be implemented by the DWP.’
‘We will continue to share the evidence and experiences of our customers to ensure further changes are introduced’.
Halton Housing will be sending out timely alerts to their customers claiming Universal Credit, and those who are set to make the switch to Universal Credit to make them aware of these changes.
To find out more about this 2017 Autumn Budget, and all the changes made to Universal Credit, click here.
To read helpful, self-help articles on all things Universal Credit, click here.