TENS of thousands of low paid workers on Universal Credit may not be paid over the festive season or may get a reduced payment.
Those hit will be some of the 67,000 people who claim the benefit while working and who are paid weekly. This is because there are five paydays in December, so their monthly income will be too high to get any or some of the benefit. Some will have to reapply.
The government defended the system, saying the majority were unaffected. The Department for Work and Pensions warns on its website: ‘If you’re paid weekly by your employer, you will get either 4 or 5 payments of earnings within a Universal Credit assessment period. Depending on the amount you get paid this may affect your Universal Credit.
‘When you have 5 weekly earnings payments within an assessment period, your income may be too high to qualify for Universal Credit in that month. If this happens you will be notified that your income is too high and you will no longer get Universal Credit. You can re-apply the following month as you should only get 4 wage payments in your assessment period then. (News Line emphasis) You will need to be prepared for a month when you get 5 wage payments in one assessment period and budget for a potential change in your monthly Universal Credit payments.’
Kayley Hignell, from Citizens Advice, said the way Universal Credit was calculated brought ‘significant budget challenges’. She said: ‘People need to know that if they’re getting extra income in one month… it may stop their Universal Credit payment, and that they then subsequently need to put in a new claim to make sure that they continue to get those payments. If you’ve got extra money in the month, don’t necessarily bank on the fact that your Universal Credit is going to stay the same, because it could change either in this month or the next.’
Dave Wiltshire Secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance commented: ‘This is just a very cruel punishment of the poorest people. Labour must immediately demand that these vicious Christmas cuts are stopped and demand the abolition of Universal Credit.’
• Speaking to Andrew Marr, yesterday, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: ‘There are no unemployed people,’ when asked about the threat to jobs posed by new technology. Asked to clarify, he said the government had not forgotten the 1.4m unemployed in the UK, saying people were finding work ‘at a remarkable rate’.
Responding to Hammond’s comments, Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: ‘The Chancellor is living on another planet.’