William Eichler 11 July 2019

UC payment delays should be no more than a week, MPs say

Two independent MPs have called for Universal Credit payments to begin within a week of registering for the benefit.

The Government’s flagship welfare reform, which rolls six benefit payments into one, has been criticised for what is often a five-week delay between when a claimant applies for it and when it is received.

Frank Field and Heidi Allen MPs have called for this waiting period to be reduced to one week and have urged the next Prime Minister to make the method by which payments are calculated more flexible.

A recent study by the housing association The Riverside Group revealed that two fifths of their residents who claimed UC payments had been forced to use food banks because of payment delays.

They calculated that if this was extrapolated across the five million extra UC recipients who are predicted to sign up between now and 2023, then there will be 2.05 million more people relying on help from food banks and other voluntary organisations.

Writing in The House, the independent MPs said that austerity had ‘undermined a century’s work to protect the most vulnerable in our society’ and called for ‘urgent reform’ to tackle poverty.

As well as urging the next PM to reform Universal Credit, they recommended an immediate end of the freeze on family benefits and tax credits, and said that these benefits should be uprated at least in line with the cost of living.

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