Universal Credit is a living support payment issued to those who have either found themselves out of work, or who are on a low income. Claimants can expect to be paid once every month in a sum which relates to their personal circumstances. The benefit has become particularly important during the COVID-19 crisis, and was even boosted by the Government to provide further financial assistance.
Universal Credit went up twice in April 2020 – once as a result of the end of the benefit freeze in the UK, and then an additional rise due to the pandemic.
This equated to around £1,000 a year, or £80 a month for those receiving the benefit.
However, the DWP only intended for this measure to be in place for a year, and now the Government has issued an important update.
The temporary policy is now actively “under review”, likely meaning it will either be kept or scrapped.
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When chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, Stephen Timms, asked for further details on whether the policy was under review, Ms Coffey answered in the affirmative.
She continued: “Yes, there’s a number of different elements and I think more broadly, we’ve been thinking carefully about our spending review which is under way.”
More recently, there have been calls from various groups to permanently keep the COVID-19 benefits boost.
A number of well-known charities and groups including Citizens Advice, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Macmillan Cancer Support, The Salvation Army and the Disability Benefits Consortium, penned an open letter to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak on the matter.
Within the letter, the organisations urged Mr Sunak to keep the temporary £20 weekly increase.
The letter read: “We welcomed the swift action you took at the start of the pandemic to implement this much needed investment.
“Falling incomes and rising costs throughout the pandemic have put families under immense financial pressure, but the £20 uplift has been a lifeline that has enabled many of them to keep their heads above water and has stopped us seeing a marked surge in poverty levels.
“We urge the Government to keep doing the right thing, keep families afloat and keep the lifeline.”
The amount of Universal Credit Britons receive is based on a series of personal circumstances.
However, the standard amount under the system relates to a person’s age and relationship status.
Single people under 25 are entitled to receive £342.72 per month in allowance.
This amount increases for single people who are 25 or over, who are allocated £409.89 a month.
Those who are in a couple ,where both are under the age of 25, will get £488.59 to split between them.
And, couples where either are 25 or over can expect to receive £594.04 per month to share.
Claimants may get additional sums on top of their standard allowance if they are eligible.
This includes those with children, individuals with a health condition or disability, and people who need assistance with paying their rent.