Some low income workers on the DWP payment did not get the extra £326 as a result of their benefit entitlement being removed during the eligibility period for the support. Earlier this year, then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a cost of living payment worth £650 for those on means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit. The first instalment of this support, a payment of £326, has been rolled out to benefit claimants over the past month but some have missed out on.
To receive this cost of living payment, a recipient must have been eligible for Universal Credit during an assessment period between April 26 and May 25.
Ahead of the announcement of this support, the Government warned that people will not be able to claim the extra £326 if their earnings reduce their Universal Credit entitlement to zero. For every £1 someone earns, a Universal Credit claimant’s payment drops by 55p.
If someone were to be paid more money than they normally get during an assessment period, they risk losing their entire Universal Credit claim.
With many benefit claimants getting paid weekly in low income jobs, this can often be common.
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During the qualifying assessment period for the cost of living payment, some workers had their Universal Credit claim based on five weeks’ pay which meant they got nothing for that month.
A consequence of this was that they were not able to get the £326 cost of living payment being offered by the Government.
Speaking to The Guardian, IT apprentice David Evans shared how the error has affected his ability to pay for essential utility bills.
The 55-year old said: “I was going to use it to load up my gas meter, get ahead on my electricity and fill up the freezer.
“I receive about £140 in the months I am entitled to a payment. Although the number of people paid weekly is not a high percentage of the UK labour force, they are the lowest-paid and will be claiming benefits to increase their income.
“A decent number of those people, and some of those paid four-weekly, will have been at risk of not getting this money.”
A supermarket worker, who chose to remain anonymous, discussed how she had been impacted by the payroll issue.
She explained: “I work at a large supermarket and am paid every four weeks. I am also on Universal Credit and, by a chance of the calendar, had two paydays in April.
“This meant I got nothing that month. I was still on Universal Credit, I just got zero pounds.
“My assessment period ran from 1 to 30 April, so I will not get the payment just because I am paid four-weekly, not monthly.
“It must be affecting a lot of people like me. It’s so unfair and upsetting. We are assessed to need extra help but are then arbitrarily not helped.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, a DWP spokesperson said: “The vast majority of existing recipients of Universal Credit will qualify for a Cost of Living payment but inevitably a small number will be ineligible on the qualification dates because of a change of income, earnings or other circumstance.
“Earnings patterns can vary substantially and it would be impossible to choose qualifying dates that work for every single person on Universal Credit.
“However autumn’s second qualifying date reduces the risk that those with non-monthly pay periods that were ineligible for the first payment, miss out altogether.
“For any individuals that are not eligible for this support, or for families that need additional support, the Government is providing an additional £500 million to help vulnerable households and from October 2022, domestic electricity customers will receive a £400 discount on their bills.”
The remaining £324 of the larger cost of living payment will be delivered to Universal Credit later this year.