Seven-day universal credit waiting period will not be removed until next year

27 Nov 17

Key elements of the government’s £1.5bn package for universal credit will not come into effect until next year, it has been revealed.

The chancellor said in the Budget last week that claimants would be eligible for money from the moment their claim was approved, removing the current seven-day wait.

This effectively cuts the six-week wait for universal credit to five.

But work and pensions secretary David Gauke confirmed on Thursday last week there would be some delay to this reform.

Gauke, speaking in the Commons, said: “From February, we will remove the seven-day waiting period, reducing the length of time claimants might wait to receive their first full payment.”

He also confirmed that the move to extend the advance loan repayments from six to 12 months and increasing them from 50% of entitlement to the full amount will not come into affect until January.

Gauke added that additional payments of two weeks housing benefit for new claimants transitioning to universal credit, aimed at preventing rent arrears, will not be available until April.

Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, pointed out this meant the changes would not be in place ready to help people over the Christmas period. 

“The reforms announced today will not be introduced until next year and will do nothing for the tens of thousands who are stuck in the six-week waiting period over Christmas,” she said.

She believed the housing benefit changes - that still leave a three-week gap, and do not kick in until April - “will lead to arrears and even evictions”.

PF has reported councils piloting universal credit have called a halt to the universal credit roll-out, concerned about a rise in rent arrears.

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