Since his December update, our Money Advice Officer Steven has seen Universal Credit experience a few U-turns which may impact our residents – and potentially make them financially better off.
Here, Steven gives a round-up of the latest changes:
“In the ever-changing world of Universal Credit, there are constant new cases and challenges that lead to backtracking, new decisions and, understandably, a lot of confusion amongst claimants!
Most recently, a couple of developments may have an impact on families and workers:
Affecting families: the two-child limit
The two-child limit will now only apply to third or subsequent children born after April 2017 instead of applying to any such child, regardless of when they were born – as was the original plan from 01/02/2019. This is really good news and will be a positive for anyone who already had 3 or more children in April 2017 who have a change of circumstances and have to claim Universal Credit as they will get support for all of their children instead of just 2.
Campaigners hope that this will lead to the entire policy being scrapped – which is currently being challenged through the courts.
Affecting workers: recognising payment cycles
Previously, claimants may have found themselves worse off if they had two wage payments counted in one month – for example, because they were paid early due to weekends or bank holidays. This meant claimants were getting less than they were entitled to – as it was interpreted as being paid double, rather than being paid for two months.
Thankfully, the High Court has now ruled that this is unlawful and the payments should have been calculated based on the period the earnings relate to. The DWP have said they are considering the Judgment, and do have the right to seek leave to appeal to a higher Court so we need to watch this space. To find out more about this case, check out this link.
Affecting claimants who are yet to be moved onto Universal Credit: a new pilot
If you are still claiming old-style benefits, expect to hear from DWP to be ‘invited’ to claim Universal Credit. There is to be a pilot of 10,000 cases to assess if the process works before this is extended out – with the aim of inviting every claimant by 2020.
Confused by the changes, or not sure whether you are receiving the full benefits that you are entitled to? Book a free, confidential chat with Steven to make sense of the changes – and your rights.