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Universal Credit: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN HL4637, tabled on 18 May 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they expect Universal Credit claimants to take during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid the application of the benefit cap.

Answered on

2 June 2020

There are exemptions to the application of the benefit cap that do not require a claimant to take additional steps. Claimants may benefit from a nine-month grace period where their benefit will not be capped if they have a sustained work record. Exemptions will continue to apply for the most vulnerable claimants who are entitled to disability benefits and carer benefits.

In addition, Universal Credit households are exempt from the cap if they receive earnings of at least £604 in each assessment period. We would encourage claimants to continue to prepare and look for work where it is safe to do so. There are jobs available in key sectors such as agriculture, distribution and health and social care. In addition, retailers have announced tens of thousands of new jobs in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Claimants are encouraged to explore these opportunities and others, where able to do so. The online service Find a Job can be used to search and apply for them. We continue to offer support to our claimants through their online journal.

Claimants can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payments from their local authority if they need additional support to meet housing costs and over £1 billion has been provided to Local Authorities since 2011 to help the most vulnerable claimants. There is already £180 million in Discretionary Housing Payments for local authorities to distribute for supporting renters with housing costs in the private and social rented sectors in 2020/21. This includes an additional £40 million as announced at the spending round last year.