Brits on Universal Credit could get longer to pay back debts caused by 5-week wait

BRITS on Universal Credit could soon get longer to pay back debts caused by the five-week wait for a first payment.

Ministers are said to be “looking at” giving claimants longer to pay back their debts and give them some much needed breathing space.

Under the current system, people on the six-in-one benefit have to take out an "advance" against their future benefits due to the five-week wait for their first payment.

They then have 12 months to repay the advance, a time limit that will be extended to 16 months from October next year.

Speaking today, Work and Pensions Minister Will Quince revealed: "I'm very sympathetic to it extending further and I'm looking at that in detail."

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee has now launched an inquiry into the long wait.

Last year the Department for Work and Pensions admitted in August 2019 it deducted £50 million from claimants across the UK to pay back their advances.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Keep more of what you earn:The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
  3. 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 [email protected] to share your story. 

Mr Quince has previously defended the repayment scheme and insisted advice is available to those on the scheme.

He said: "Advances are an important tool to help the most vulnerable claimants receive the money they need to live on.

"Proposed repayments of an advance payment are explained as part of the application process, and all claimants are advised to request the level of advance which is manageable when considering the repayments required."

Under the controversial benefits system, working parents can claim up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs – worth up to a maximum of £646 a month for one child or up to £1,108 a month for two or more children.

But they have to pay these bills in advance before waiting up to a month to be reimbursed. And bills often end up being much higher than what the government pays out.

The Sun is calling for these costs to be paid upfront by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as part of our Make Universal Credit Work campaign.

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