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More than 85,000 universal credit claimants could see payments rise from today after rule change

More than 85,000 universal credit claimants could see an increase to their payments from today after a Government rule change came into force.

Until now, workers who were paid twice during what's referred to as their "assessment period" – a rolling one-month period that starts from the day you make your first claim – were recorded as having over-earned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This meant their subsequent payment was reduced.

But under the new rules, claimants in this situation will not be penalised.

See our Coronavirus Universal Credit & Benefits guide for more help.

What was the problem?

The problem with universal credit rules before today meant that if you were paid twice in a single assessment period, because it was a bank holiday and your monthly salary payment was bought forward so you had two payments in one month for example, you would have your next payment docked.

People sometimes received no money at all the month after having a double payment.

How has the system changed?

The DWP was ordered to fix the issue in June after four single mums highlighted the situation in a case at the Court of Appeal and won. The changes come into force today (Monday 16 November).

What this means now is that if two payments come in the same month, one will be moved to a different assessment period.

Claimants won't need to do anything to make this happen, but it's recommended they tell their work coach in advance via their online journal if possible.

The change also won't affect the actual day you are paid by your employer, it will just effect the way it is recorded by the DWP.

Unfortunately, the changes will only apply to employees who are paid monthly, so it won't help those who are paid weekly or fortnightly to budget – we've asked the DWP if they have any plans to improve things for these people.

What does the Government say?

Welfare Delivery Minister Will Quince said: "Universal credit is a flexible benefit, and we continue to make changes and improvements to make sure people have the best experience possible.

"This change will give stability to people if they're paid two pay cheques in a single assessment period, by ensuring that their universal credit payments remain consistent."

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