Policy changes in universal credit and budgeting advance due to coronavirus

Recent coronavirus epidemic has totally changed our normal lifestyle and days are getting harder for the citizens of UK. As most of the sources of earning are stopped now, people are more trying to apply for universal credit and budgeting advance benefits. Only in the second quarter of March, almost one million people went for universal credit and budgeting advance claim. Understanding this practical situation, the DWP has declared a few policy changes in universal credit and budgeting advance claim procedures.

Worry not, these policy changes will lessen your effort to apply for financial help in this moment of crisis.

The below discussion will help you out to get a concise idea of how these policy changes would affect you.


Sick pay:

If you are Covid-19 positive and do not go to the work for coronavirus epidemic, don’t worry. You will receive the statutory sick pay right from the 1st day in spite of the 4th day of your sickness. However, you have to fulfill the eligibility criteria for receiving the SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) benefits. Under this benefit, your employer will pay you £95.85 every week for as long as 28 weeks. The changes in rules are applicable from 13th March 2020.

If you or some other family member of your home is self-isolating herself for suspected Covid-19 and you cannot attend your work for that reason, you can also get SSP benefits. However, the similar eligibility criterion for SSP also applies here.

Gig workers who work for a contract basis and currently are on zero-hour contract may also come under SSP benefits. However, to get the benefits, you need to comply with the SSP benefit requirements.

Moreover, you can also get both Universal credit and SSP benefits parallelly. In fact, if you are already getting SSP benefits, you should apply for Universal credit also. It will help you pay for your rents or better care for your children. In such cases, your SSP benefits will also be taken into consideration while computing your Universal credit payment.

This not only applies only to Covid-19. If you cannot work for any other disease or public health issue you still can apply for these benefits.


Benefits for already claiming:

Do not call the DWP for any query related to Universal credit unless it is really serious. You will get all your claim related information in your online account. You can check the online Universal credit statement to know the amount you will get for the month. You will find the statement in the ‘Home’ tab of your digital account. After successful Universal credit and budgeting advance claim, if you or your better-half receive any income, then the DWP will include the amount while calculating the first payment for you. Do not forget to check the online journal because for any update or service related information, DWP will send you messages there.

Those who are already getting benefits need not be present for face to face jobcentre appointments. It applies from 19th March 2020. All benefit holders will continue getting benefits without any interruption, only there is no necessity to attend jobcentre interviews. Adding to this, DWP has also canceled all the scheduled appointments due to recent coronavirus outbreak. In such cases, the assessment provider will contact the required person and tell him what to do next.

Due to Covid-19 outbreak, the UK government raised both the rate of standard allowance for Universal credit and Working Tax credit for 1 year. The increased amount is £20 per week over planned annual uprating. Both the existing and new applicants will come under this change. After this change, an applicant for Universal credit will receive £409.89 instead of £317.82 in a month.


Benefits of new claimants:

If you have no job or lost your work, you can apply for Universal credit benefits. The conditions under which you can get Universal credit are:

  1. i) If you have no work.
  2. ii) If your income is low.

iii) If your age is more than 18 (though in some rare cases, DWP also considers claimants aged 16 or 17).

  1. iv) You or your partner comes under state pension age.
  2. v) Your gross savings is less than £16,000.
  3. vi) You have to be a citizen of UK.

If you are already receiving Tax Credit from HMRC, remember that your Tax Credit benefit will lapse the moment you apply for Universal credit claim. After the finishing of the Tax Credit benefit, you cannot open it again and cannot submit a new Tax Credit application in future.


Final thoughts:

These changes will surely bring a sigh of relief for UK citizens. It will help those who are facing difficulty to pay for rents or manage food in this tough time.


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