finance

Universal Credit £20 a week uplift decision postponed until next year


MILLIONS of Universal Credit claimants won’t find out if the £20-per-week boost to their benefits will be extended until next year.

Households on Universal Credit currently get an extra £1,100 a year thanks to the temporary increase, which was introduced in April.

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Universal Credit claimants will continue to see a boost to their benefits

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Universal Credit claimants will continue to see a boost to their benefits

The Chancellor was expected to confirm if this boost would extend beyond April as part of his Spending Review today, but this wasn’t announced.

The Sun understands that a decision won’t be made now until next year.

For a single Universal Credit claimant, who’s 25 or older, the standard allowance increased from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.

This amounts to an extra £92.07 per month, or £1,104.84 per year.

The Chancellor announced today:

Chancellor Rishi Sunak leaving Downing Street today

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak leaving Downing Street todayCredit: AFP or licensors

What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit

IF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:

  • Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it’s a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
  • Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you’re falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you’re part of a couple.
  • Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You’ll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You’ll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
  • Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your existing ones aren’t enough to cover your rent.
  • Foodbanks – If you’re really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
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The standard allowance is set at different levels for those who are under 25 or for those who are in a couple.

The financial boost was rolled out as a temporary measure for 12 months due to the pandemic, applying to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants.

In March, the government also suspended sanctions and the requirement to meet job coaches but this was only for three months.

The Universal Credit boost was only supposed to last for 12 months but MPs, charities and campaigners have been calling on the government to extend it.

Commenting on the failure to address the benefit today, Becca Lyon, head of child poverty at Save the Children, said: “The pandemic has put families on low incomes under huge financial pressure, and the £20-a-week boost to Universal Credit introduced at the start of the crisis made a real difference to some of the country’s poorest children.

“It’s hugely disappointing that the UK government has decided not to reassure families today that they will not lose this increase to their benefits from April next year.

Thomas Lawson, chief executive at Turn2us, added: “Today’s announcement does not go far enough to help the many thousands of people who are struggling to stay afloat.

“There is an absence of any new policies to improve our inadequate social security system and enable people to have enough income to get by, let alone thrive.

“For a society that believes in compassion and fairness, the lack of commitment to maintaining the vital £20 uplift to Universal Credit will make it impossible for so many of us to get back on our feet.” 

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In a letter signed by more than 50 charities and groups, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation warned thousands of people could be plunged into poverty if the boost isn’t extended.

The note, which was sent in September, detailed how the uplift had “stopped us seeing a marked surge in poverty levels”.

It adds: “However, if the uplift ends in April 2021, this good work risks being undermined.”

“We are therefore urging you to make the uplift permanent and stop families being cut adrift whilst they need help to stay afloat.”

Separately, a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) urged the government to keep the support going while the country is still recovering from coronavirus.

It said the measures should be extended as the economic consequences of coronavirus continue through the recovery.

Debbie Abrahams, chair of the group, said: “The coronavirus pandemic saw a huge and sudden increase in claimants.

“It is more important than ever that we make sure that Universal Credit is better able to meet the needs of claimants and provide the timely financial support they need while they work to get another job or start a business.”

What benefits and Universal Credit can you claim? How to check you’re not missing out.

Here’s what else has been announced in the Spending Review and how it impacts your finances.

It includes a £2.9billion plan to help unemployed Brits find work through a new Restart Scheme.





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