UNIVERSAL Credit claimants are being pushed into debt because mistakes by the Government mean they aren’t being paid what they’re owed.
One in five of the 1,110 Universal Credit claims seen by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) contained an administrative error.
Claimants can appeal decisions they feel are incorrect or unfair but often calculations are not spelt out clearly meaning consumers have no way of knowing what’s right or wrong.
The charity adds that Universal Credit helpline staff are often unable to explain how a claimant’s award has been worked out because they don’t have access to payment calculations.
It says this is a particular problem when it comes to the amount of Universal Credit claimants are entitled to for rent payments, which often fall short of what is due with no explanation.
This leaves claimants being left to “guess and grope” for what they should receive, which in turn can see them at risk of “sliding into debt”.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:
- Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
- Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
- Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
The Sun launched its Make Universal Credit Work campaign last year to demand urgent action from the Government to help working families let down by the shambolic rollout of the new benefits system.
CPAG chief executive, Alison Garnham, wants the Government to make Universal Credit calculations clearer.
She said: “Transparency should be a the heart of a fair social security system but our research shows Universal Credit claimants do not always understand the amounts they’re getting so it’s harder for them to pick up on mistakes or to predict how their awards might change.
“And because Universal Credit is an all-in-one benefit, with all your eggs in one basket, when things go wrong for claimants the financial fallout can be dire.”
Lord justice of appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley ,added: “It’s a fundamental principle in a democracy that governmental bodies must have reasons for their decisions.
“It’s equally fundamental – or should be – that they should be able to explain what those reasons are.”
The charity also believes the Government is giving claimants incorrect information on the appeals process.
Here’s how to appeal a Universal Credit decision if your payments are stopped or you’ve been sanctioned.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “More than 1.8million claimants receive a monthly statement advising them of their entitlement, how it has been calculated and what to do if they think the payment is incorrect.
“Help is also available from work coaches, the freephone Universal Credit helpline, gov.uk and through our ‘Help to Claim’ partnership with Citizens Advice.”
More Universal Credit
If you want to know the basics, here’s what Universal Credit is, who’s eligible to claim it, and how the benefits system has changed.
Sadly, the research by CPAG comes as food bank usage hits record high with Universal Credit to blame.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org