Universal Credit: How to apply during coronavirus crisis
To avoid being unable to make ends meet, over 1.4 million people have applied for the benefit within the last six weeks. Universal Credit is a living support payment which provides valuable assistance for those who are unemployed or on low income. While the benefit was necessary before the coronavirus crisis, the reliance upon it has seen a significant increase since lockdown measures were implemented in the UK.
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Applications for Universal Credit have significantly risen, with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) admitting it initially struggled to keep up with demand.
However, the benefit is still available to those who need it, with the application process, once understood, straightforward.
In order to be entitled to Universal Credit, one must be over the age of 18 but under State Pension age.
A potential claimant must also have £16,000 or less in savings and live in the UK.
If living with a partner, their income and savings will also be taken into account.
To claim Universal Credit, Britons must set up an online account.
They will need to provide the DWP with bank account details, an email address and information about income.
A claim must be submitted within 28 days of creating the account.
All interviews have been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with the DWP contacting all potential claimants to inform them of their next steps.
Once the claim is assessed by the DWP, the claimant will be informed if their application has been successful.
It usually takes five weeks for a claimant to receive their first payment.
The government website states the wait before a first payment is made up of a one month assessment period and up to seven days for the payment to reach bank accounts.
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Universal Credit is paid once or twice a month and is based on a person’s individual circumstances such as children, disability or personal finances.
A standard allowance, however, has been laid out by the government.
For those who are single and over the age of 25, the monthly standard allowance stands at £409.89.
And for those in a couple over the age of 25, the monthly standard allowance is £594.04 for the pair.
Those with children receive an extra amount for each child, and those with a disability or health condition are also provided with an additional sum.
Any circumstance changes must be reported to the DWP so the government body can monitor payments.
While campaigners have tried to petition the DWP to lower the five week wait time, officials have announced this will not be possible.
Neil Couling, Universal Credit director-general, said “playing about with the architecture of Universal Credit” would destroy the system for Britons.
And Welfare Minister Will Quince told MPs the changing of the wait time had not been considered.
He said: “Even if we were able to secure the £2.2 billion a year that would be required to do that, it is not operationally deliverable.
“And that is the biggest reason, amongst many, many others, why it wasn’t even really considered as an option. Because it wasn’t operationally deliverable, it isn’t something we considered.”
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