I’ve just been laid off and I’m due some holiday pay - when can I claim Universal Credit?
You can claim immediately, but depending how much holiday pay you are due, and when, you may be better off delaying your claim until you receive it. If you are due a significant amount of holiday pay in the next few days / couple of weeks, then it is more likely that it would be better to delay the claim until after you receive this payment. This is because this payment from your employer will reduce your UC award.
If you are entitled to a work allowance and the amount of holiday pay (and any wages you are still due) is less than this allowance, then you should claim immediately. This is because the payment from your employer will be totally disregarded and so not affect your UC award.
If you are not sure what you are best doing, contact a Benefits Adviser.
My hours are reducing at work and I’ve been advised to claim Universal Credit, but I have been told that, because I am paid monthly, the date I claim can make a big difference – can you explain this?
Universal Credit is a monthly benefit. It is assessed and paid in chunks of a month called Assessment Periods. Your date of claim determines when your Assessment Periods start and end. So, for instance, if you claim UC on 25th March, your first Assessment Period would be 25th March to 24th April, and all following Assessment Periods would run from 25th of one month to 24th of the next.
When the DWP work out how much UC you are entitled to, they take into account the wages you’ve received during that Assessment Period.
If you are paid monthly, then depending on your pay date and Assessment Periods you can sometimes find that two wages are paid within one Assessment Period.
Let’s say you get your wages paid on 26th of the month. Then in July, because 26th falls at the weekend, your employer will pay you early – on Friday 24th July. This means that when your UC award is assessed on 24th July it will include two monthly wages – the one paid on 26th June as well as the one paid on 24th July. This will mean that your UC award for that Assessment Period drops dramatically – which may make it difficult for you financially as your wage amount hasn’t actually changed. Your next UC payment would then be higher than normal as no wages will be taken into account in your next UC Assessment Period ie for 25th July – 24th August, but overall this can leave you worse off (although those with small UC awards can sometimes be better off).
So if the date you are looking to claim Universal Credit is on or just before your normal pay date from work, you may be better delaying your claim by a few days. Seek advice from a Benefits Adviser.
My partner has Coronavirus so the whole family has to self-isolate. We’re getting Tax Credits to top up her income, but no Housing Benefit as our earnings are too high. We’re waiting to see if anyone else comes down with Coronavirus but, because our only income is now Statutory Sick Pay and Tax Credits, we are going to struggle to pay the rent. She doesn’t think her employer will be entitled to pay her under the Job Retention Scheme as her job is not under threat. We don’t want to claim UC and would rather stay on Tax Credits if we can. If we delay claiming UC to see what happens (as this could just be a short term thing) - but then decide to claim UC - will we be able to get the claim backdated?
Unfortunately, delaying claiming UC for these reasons wouldn’t fall under the rules that would allow a claim for UC to be backdated.
In the short term, as your partner is receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) she is still treated as being in work for Tax Credit purposes, and so your Tax Credits can continue. If she is likely to be off longer than a few weeks then HMRC may be willing to reassess your entitlement.
You may also wish to contact a Benefit Adviser to do a benefit check to compare any potential UC award with your current Tax Credit entitlement and then make an informed decision.
Also, let your landlord know about your current situation.