Universal Credit: Expert on ‘difficulty’ of monthly payment
Universal Credit is a new benefit to support people who are out of work or are on a low income. Universal Credit replaces some of the benefits and tax credits you may be receiving now, including; housing benefit; child tax credit; income support; working tax credit; income-based jobseeker’s allowance; income-related employment and support allowance. The Department for Work and Pensions refers to these as legacy benefits.
You may be able to claim universal credit if you’re aged 18 and over and out of work or on a low income.
Last year, the Government increased Universal Credit standard allowance payments by £20 a week in response to the ongoing pandemic.
So that means a single person aged 25 or over would be paid £409.89 per month rather than £317.82.
But this extra boost from the Chancellor is expected to end soon, with many in turmoil over what this will mean for them financially as the Covid pandemic grips on.
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When will Universal Credit payments be cut?
The Government has provided Universal Claimants with a £20 uplift for the year, alongside help for the self-employed and workers who can’t go into their workplace.
The uplift has proved an essential lifeline for many claimants who have struggled to see through the pandemic.
On April 6, 2020, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak raised the standard rate of Universal Credit and Tax Credits, meaning those claimants were £1,040 better off in a single year.
However, sadly for many, the weekly uplift is due to end in April 2021, with the Government providing no information or clarification about an extension.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rebuffed calls to stop the cut from going ahead in just a few months’ time.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and a Conservative party former welfare chief urged Mr Johnson to extend the raise.
Ex-Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb said: “Now is really not the moment to weaken our welfare safety net.
“Giving families on low incomes greater security for the year ahead by extending, rather than cutting support, is the right thing to do.”
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But despite the pleas from fellow politicians, the Prime Minister refused to confirm, instead saying: “We’ll of course keep this under review.”
He added: “We will continue to support families through Universal Credit. There has been an uplift of £1,000 at least until April.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “It’s something we will be looking at early this year, and as you know, there is a Budget for early March.”
Charities and campaigners warn time is running out for families, who will likely face very stark realities of poverty if the payment is cut.
Legacy benefits, mostly aimed at helping disabled people, were never given a Covid uplift and are due to rise by a meagre 35p a week.
Ken Bulter, Disability Rights UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Advisor warned that the Universal Credit cut would, again, likely hit disabled people the harder.
Mr Butler said: “Given that the £20 a week uplift was thought necessary at the start of the pandemic, it’s difficult to see how its end can now be justified given all forecasts are for unemployment to rise.
“Worse, it shows that the Government still rejects the case for awarding ESA (Employment Support allowance) claimants the same £20 weekly increase given to those receiving Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit.
“Even before the Covid-19 crisis, benefit cuts and austerity hit disabled people the hardest.”
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