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Universal Credit

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 71287, tabled on 8 November 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 28 October 2021 to Question 62643 on Universal Credit, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of reforming the universal credit assessment period and payment structure; and what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the Court of Appeal Judgement of 22 November 2020 [2020] EWCA Civ 778.

Answered on

16 November 2021

The Department has no plans to change either Universal Credit assessment periods or payment structures. They are fundamental parts of the design, reflecting payment patterns in the world of work, where the majority of people are paid monthly. Ensuring similarities between paid employment and receiving benefits eliminates an important barrier which could prevent claimants from adjusting to paid employment.

The Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Johnson and others, handed down on 22 June 2020, ruled that the way the Department calculated Universal Credit awards involving earnings in an assessment period was a correct application of the regulations, but that the Department’s position of not considering the impact on the small number of specific cases of those paid calendar monthly who are affected by ‘a non-banking day salary shift’ should change.

The Court of Appeal Judgment was narrowly focussed on calendar monthly paid claimants who are affected by a ‘non-banking day salary shift’ resulting in two payments being counted in one assessment period, none in another and the loss of a work allowance. The legislation changes we made to remedy these cases came into force on 16th November 2020 and allow us to move one of these monthly payments to the assessment period where there is none. Moving an additional four-weekly payment from the assessment period with two payments would not have the same effect, but would simply mean there would be two payments in a different assessment period.