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Universal Credit: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 30669, tabled on 17 March 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to shorten or bypass the universal credit assessment period for people who (a) need to self-isolate or (b) are out of work due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

25 March 2020

This answer is a correction from the original answer.

The Government has been clear in its commitment to support those affected in these difficult times and we have made a number of changes to the welfare system in the past fortnight to ensure people are receiving the support they need. These changes include increasing the standard allowance of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by over £1000 a year.

We have also increased the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents – which is on average £600 in people’s pockets.

We are also temporarily relaxing the application of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for all self-employed claimants affected by the economic impact of COVID-19 to ensure that the self-employed can access UC at a more generous rate.

Together, these measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system.

New Claims Advances are available to support those in immediate financial need until their first Universal Credit payment is made and the Department is committed to delivering advances as soon as possible to people who have requested them.

The Universal Credit assessment period and payment structure are fundamental parts of the design and the current advance system works, and works quickly.

It is not possible to award a Universal Credit payment as soon as a claim is made, as the assessment period must run its course before the award of Universal Credit can be calculated. In order to allow the Universal Credit system to cope with the unprecedented demand, we must limit the changes made to its framework.

Original answer

As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.