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Social Security Benefits: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN HL5528, tabled on 10 June 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of new claims for Universal Credit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have been unsuccessfull; and of those, what proportion were unsuccessful because of the income and capital rules; and what proportion of (1) successful, and (2) unsuccessful, claimants for Universal Credit in this period were eligible for contributory (a) Jobseeker's Allowance, and (b) Employment and Support Allowance.

Answered on

24 June 2020

The Department has been working to ensure we get support as quickly as possible to those individuals and households most financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It has been a longstanding principle of Universal Credit (UC) that an assessment of earnings, other income and capital is needed to establish eligibility to target support to those most in need. There may be several reasons why someone is not eligible to receive UC, will have received a nil award or withdrew their claim. Among other reasons, this includes:

  • speculative claims which were subsequently withdrawn;
  • found new employment (which may at present include being rehired under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or taken advantage of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme);
  • redundancy payments affecting their entitlement;
  • the last month’s salary taken account. The key principle of UC is that it’s calculated based on income, so if someone’s income from work drops, their UC payment will rise to top it up;
  • their claim may have been found to be fraudulent; and
  • Individuals may have capital saved above the £16,000 limit for UC entitlement.

Between 16 March and 3 May there were 1,875,000 declarations made to UC, all of which are processed. Of these:

  • 70 per cent have received a UC payment;
  • 12 per cent had a nil award due to earnings;
  • seven per cent were withdrawn by the claimant;
  • one per cent closed due to ineligibility regarding capital rules;
  • eight per cent closed due to other ineligibility reasons; and
  • one per cent have outstanding verification preventing payment.

Claimants move from existing benefits to UC when they experience a significant change in their circumstances that triggers a new claim to benefit. We do not centrally collate the number of claimants that have made a new claim to UC as a result of such a change in circumstances.