Universal Credit changes for October – Christmas payments, uplifted amounts and DWP plans

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Universal Credit has been one of the primary state benefits to receive coronavirus themed support from the government. Much of this support has been called into question in recent weeks, with Boris Johnson, Thérèse Coffey and Rishi Sunak being forced to address certain issues.

Earlier this year, Universal Credit claimants saw a temporary uplift in their payments as Rishi Sunak boosted weekly rates by around £20.

This was in direct response to the pandemic and as the end of this temporary measure approaches, many have called for the increase to be made permanent.

In mid-October, Ian Blackford, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, asked the Prime Minister the following: “With mass unemployment looming, having the right social security measures in place to help families over the long term is vital.

“The Chancellor has so far refused to commit to make the Universal Credit uplift permanent, which means that 16 million people face losing an income equivalent of £1,040 overnight.

“Will the Prime Minister now commit to making the uplift permanent?”

This was not the first time calls of this nature were made, as several Charites and organisations have highlighted claimants may struggle if this uplift is removed.

Despite this, the Prime Minister refused to budge on the government’s commitment to keeping the measure temporary, as he responded: “I am proud that we have been able to uprate it in the way that we have, and we will continue to support people across the country, with the biggest cash increase in the national living wage this year.

“The result of Universal Credit so far has been that there are 200,000 fewer people in absolute poverty now than there were in 2010.

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“It is vital that we tackle poverty in this country. That is why this Government are so proud of what we did with the national living wage.

“We are putting another £1.7billion into Universal Credit by 2023-24. If that does not give him the answer he wants, he can ask again next week.

“We will continue to support people and families across this country, and we will continue to spend £95billion a year in this country on working-age welfare.

“But the best thing we can do for people on Universal Credit is to get this virus down, get our economy moving again and get them back into well-paid, high-skilled jobs – and that is what we are going to do.”

On top of this, Thérèse Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, was recently asked for an update on minimum income floor plans, which were also altered in the face of coronavirus and are set to revert to the usual system from November 13.

When asked if the DWP plan to end the suspension of the minimum income floor for self-employed claimants, Thérèse had the following reply: “Well that policy is still under review.

“Clearly, this is a matter of discussion because the regulations do come to an end I think it’s important to recognise that we have different measures happening around different parts of the country.

“We do need to try and take a national approach of the overall policy but as ever, we do trust and empower our work coaches to make the best decisions for the claimants who they are helping to get back into work.”

As the winter months approach, it is clear to see some families may struggle as the government reduces its support.

Many people may find themselves needing to apply for Universal Credit for the first time but this could be made complicated with the Christmas period.

Universal Credit payment dates can be changed because of bank holiday payments and this is especially true for December.

The DWP have released their schedule for how state benefit payments will be paid over Christmas and anyone who would normally have their payment dates fall on December 25, 26, 27 or 28 will have to adapt.

For new claimants to ensure they’ll receive Universal Credit before Christmas day, applications must be made by no later than November 20, given it takes five weeks to process a claim.

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