Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak quizzed on universal credit on GMB
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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) oversees a whole host of benefit payments, but one of the most common is Universal Credit. Universal Credit offers support to individuals who are out of work or who are on a low income, and this number has seen an increase over lockdown. The payment can often be central to a person’s life, helping them to juggle the cost of living as well as other financial responsibilities they may have to meet.
When claiming Universal Credit for the first time, it is likely individuals may often have to wait in the region of five weeks to receive a first payment.
The Government explains the wait for a first payment is comprised of a one month assessment period and up to seven days for the payment to reach someone’s account.
But for individuals who need financial assistance promptly, this five week wait may be too difficult to navigate.
The DWP has borne this in mind, and is reminding Britons they can potentially receive an advance payment.
The advance is available to those who are in financial hardship while waiting for Universal Credit.
This, for instance, covers individuals who need to pay urgent bills or cover other costs.
Advance payments, though, can vary depending on the amount of help a person needs.
But what is important to consider is that it could be up to 100 percent of a person’s standard payment.
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Citizens Advice recommends individuals ask for an advance if they do not think they will have enough money to live on between applying for Universal Credit and receiving a first payment.
If someone wishes to apply for an advance payment, there are certain steps to take.
Individuals will be able to apply in their online account or through contacting their work coach.
They will need to explain why they need an advance payment, as well as verify their identity and provide relevant bank account details.
Britons will usually find out on the same day if they have been deemed eligible to receive this advance.
If assistance is needed, then the Universal Credit helpline is also available and on hand to answer questions.
Once a person has had their request for an advance approved, they should receive this money within three working days.
However, the DWP are also willing to make exceptions in extraordinary circumstances.
If a person has no other money to live on, then the DWP should be informed about this.
In cases like these, the DWP can pay Universal Credit claimants on the same day to ensure they are financially protected.
When processed, the DWP pays the advance into the same bank account used for a normal Universal Credit claim.
But what is vital to understand is that an advance isn’t just “free money” and a person will have to pay this back.
In this regard, there has been an important change this tax-year on how individuals will need to pay the sum back to the DWP.
Formerly, advances needed to be repaid within 12 months, and this is still true for those who applied before April 12, 2021.
However, those applying on or after this date will now have 24 months to pay back their advance.
Regardless of time span, Britons, however, will not be required to pay interest on this sum, and the total amount they will pay back is the same.
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