Universal Credit has been claimed by millions of people within the past few months as a direct consequence of job losses and furloughing brought about by the coronavirus crisis. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) often struggled to meet the intense demand from new claimants, although officials have said the system has now improved and will quickly help those who need it most. The payment is provided to eligible claimants every four weeks to assist them in meeting a variety of costs which arise in everyday life.
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By applying through the government website, new claimants will usually receive their first payment within five weeks of submission of a claim.
However, it is important to note the circumstances in which the benefit may need to be repaid.
For those who are in desperate financial straits, the DWP provides the opportunity to apply for a Universal Credit advance.
This enables people to receive up to 100 percent of their first payment amount quickly to assist with emergency costs.
But the government website states this advance will need to be paid back “a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments”.
Those who apply for an advance online will be shown the repayment amounts for different repayment periods.
This will allow them to select the option which is best suited to their personal circumstances.
For those who are applying via phone, the Universal Credit helpline adviser assesses whether a claimant can afford to repay the advance.
They can then provide information on how much of an advance a person can receive, their repayment amounts, and when the first repayment is due.
Those who are repaying an advance have 12 months in which to settle up the amount with the DWP.
The first deduction is made on the day of receipt of the first payment.
Britons who are really struggling or who are hit with unexpected circumstances can ask for repayments to be delayed for up to three months.
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However, it is worth noting this is only permitted in exceptional circumstances
Standard Universal Credit payments do not usually have to be paid back.
But there are three separate circumstances in which the DWP would expect money to be repaid.
- If a person did not report a change to their circumstances straight away
- If a person provided the DWP with the wrong information
- If a person was overpaid by mistake
If either of the first two circumstances apply, then Britons should be aware.
This is because people who provide wrong information or don’t report a change in circumstances could be taken to court, or required to pay a penalty fee.
Universal Credit can be claimed by those on low income or out of work, as long as they are above 18 and under State Pension age.
It is also a requirement that they have less than £16,000 in savings, and live in the UK.
The benefit has replaced six legacy benefits which may be more familiar.
- Housing Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Those who are still receiving any one of these benefits do not have to take action with the DWP informing Britons if they need to switch to Universal Credit.
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