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Universal Credit Payment Waiting Time Cut To Three Weeks In DWP Climbdown

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Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey in the House of Commons

The time Universal Credit claimants have to wait for their first payment has been cut to three weeks, Esther McVey has confirmed in a climbdown for the Government. 

The Work and Pensions Secretary has revealed changes to the flagship benefits programme made in the Budget last week. 

Under a “managed migration” system, families will now be left waiting for their first payment three weeks, a shift from the previous five. 

Debt repayments will be cut, a one-month deadline to switch benefits will be extended to three and help for the self-employed will be increased.

Funding of £4.5bn for the benefit was confirmed by Chancellor Philip Hammond. 

It comes after a torrent of criticism has been levelled at the rollout of UC, with many claiming the benefit was pushing people into poverty and foodbank use. 

The lates damning report came from the Social Security Advisory Committee, who said the five-week wait was “unacceptable” and lambasted ministers for introducing the benefit, which sees five benefits rolled into one, as having an “unrealistic” timetable.

The changes to Universal Credit include: 

  • A claimant’s old benefit  – income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance and ESA, or Income Support – will continue for 2 weeks in order to bridge the gap between payments.

  • The one-month deadline to claim will be extended to three months

  • Advance loans to help people transition on to UC will only be clawed back at 30% of benefits per month, not 40%. The payback period will extend from 12 to 16 months from October 2021.

  • Small business owners who move onto UC will get a new one-year “grace period” exempting them from the “Minimum Income Floor”. 

  • The policy of disregarding £2,500-a-month of surplus earnings (protecting people who have fluctuating wages) will extend from 2019 to 2020.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

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