Claims for Universal Credit have soared recently, with around 1.4 million people having claimed the payment in the past four weeks, Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said last week. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced a number of emergency measures for those hit financially by the crisis – including changes to Universal Credit.
- Universal Credit UK: What is the work allowance? Who is eligible?
Yesterday, Mr Sunak said that Universal Credit, the local housing allowance, and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) had seen a boost during the crisis, having injected “about £7billion into the welfare system”.
It came as Mr Sunak was addressed concerns over whether the Government was doing enough in terms of benefits to help those adversely affected.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street news conference, Mr Sunak said: “With regard to Universal Credit, it is possible for everybody to get payments on Day 1, from the beginning.
“That system has been in place for a while to make sure people can get that advance payment and they don’t have to wait, that’s something the Work and Pensions Secretary has been very clear about and implementing.”
The Chancellor also said that the DWP had removed the requirement for people to physically attend the jobcentre, instead handling the application online and on the phone where necessary.
Mr Sunak said: “And also we have injected about £7billion into the welfare system to strengthen not just Universal Credit but Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the local housing allowance to support renters.
“All of those aspects of the welfare system have been strengthened so that the safety net there will be stronger for people who need to rely on it.
“So whether it’s the furlough scheme, the self employment scheme or the interventions on the welfare side, I feel confident saying that we have taken extraordinary and unprecedented steps to provide as big a safety net for as many people as is practically possible.”
Universal Credit is paid monthly, usually into the claimant’s bank, building society or credit union account.
However, it usually takes around five weeks to get the first payment.
This consists of a one-month assessment period and up to seven days for the money to reach the account.
However, some people will find themselves needing money to cover living costs in the mean time.
- Can I apply for Universal Credit while off sick with coronavirus?
For this reason, some may decide to apply for an advance.
“You’ll usually find out the same day if you can get an advance,” the Gov.uk website states.
However, it’s very important to be aware that the recipient must start paying back the advance out of their first payment.
“You can choose how many months you pay the advance back over,” the government website explains.
However, the advance must be paid back within 12 months.
Interest is not paid on the advance, meaning the total amount that it paid back is the same.
But, it’s important to be aware that this can mean that the first payment is lower than hothe amount which was estimated.
This is because from the first payment, it will minus the amount that is being repaid.
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