From 11th April 2018 the DWP will have the discretion to apply the backdated period differently. They will be able to lengthen the first assessment period to incorporate the backdate, and retain the monthly assessment periods, rather than using the default method changing the monthly assessment period dates, as described above.
This will only apply where the DWP consider that not doing so would be an administrative burden.
We understand this to mean that it can only work in this way where the first assessment period has passed before the DWP have decided to allow the backdate, but not where the backdate has been agreed before the first assessment date.
This should mean that the problems described above will not happen. If the DWP have changed the monthly assessment dates, or have said they are going to, and this is going to cause a problem for the claimant.
Warning: It might not be wise to request a backdate if the claimant has received - or is expecting - a payment of earnings or other income in the period between the date that they want the UC backdated to and the date they actually claimed.
For example people leaving work often receive final payments, pay in lieu of notice, tax refunds etc a little while after they have left work. They may need to do a better off calculation.
Billy was entitled to claim UC from 5th May when he moved into his new flat, in a digital UC area, after his Mum died.
The housing association offered to send a support worker to help him claim as Blly has learning difficulties as well as hearing problems so cannot use the phone or the internet.
But there was no-one available until 12th May so that was when the support worker visited him at home and helped him claim, requesting a backdate to 5th.
The DWP took until 18th June to accept that Billy had grounds for a backdate so by then his MAP dates had been set. The DWP decided to pay the backdate by extending the first MAP so that it began on 5th May, although it ended on 11th June. All following MAPs ran from 12th to 11th of each month.
As Billy's first payment had already been made the backdated UC was paid separately.
Jane had been in the middle of her claim for UC at 10pm on Sunday 8th July when a message came up on her laptop that the Universal Credit system had failed. It didn't come back until the following morning so her claim did not go in until Monday 9th July. She requested a backdate and the DWP agreed. As this was before the MAP had been set the date of claim was backdated to 8th July so this MAP - and all following MAPs - ran from 8th to 7th of each month.