The payment, which helps with living costs, has become a lifeline for many who have found themselves out of work due to the pandemic. Universal Credit is paid monthly, with the claimants circumstances assessed every month. The first payment usually takes five weeks to be processed.
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Claimants can also gain an increase if they have children, a disability or need help paying rent.
However, some Britons have questioned whether Universal Credit payments could potentially be stopped during the coronavirus outbreak.
Those entitled to Universal Credit are keen to understand what funds they can receive during this turbulent time.
When signing up to Universal Credit, claimants undertake an agreement with the government known as a ‘Claimant Commitment’.
This agreement is made with a work coach and involves responsibilities such as writing a CV, looking for work, and making applications.
Claimant Commitments also require the beneficiary of Universal Credit to report any changes in their circumstances to receive the right payment.
Those who do not follow the rules are usually disciplined with a sanction – where payments can be stopped or reduced.
However, the coronavirus outbreak has seemingly changed the rules.
The government website states that throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, claimants will not receive a sanction if they cannot keep to their Claimant Commitment.
This means those facing additional hardship because of the pandemic have been loosed from stricter rules which could see them penalised.
The take-up of Universal Credit has drastically increased within recent weeks.
More than one million new applications have been submitted for the benefit since the government introduced its social distancing measures in the UK.
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As a result, there have been a litany of complaints of increased wait times on helplines.
One customer reported waiting four hours on the phone to speak to someone.
And another told Labour MP Dawn Butler over 76,000 people were in front of them in a queue to access an application.
Potential claimants have been advised to apply online to assist the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in filing claims.
At least 5,000 more staff members have now been recruited to tackle the surge in demand.
And from Thursday, a new frontline team will have the responsibility of reaching out to claimants who need to provide more information.
Recently, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, has admitted the Universal Credit system needs to be analysed amid the outbreak.
He said: “I think we have to consider the nature of the system and whether or not we do need to ensure that we better support the vulnerable.
“We keep that constantly under review and I think it’s important that we do recognise that it’s a very very difficult economic time for very many.”
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