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Universal credit: Households to miss out on benefits over festive season

Thousands of people on universal credit will not be paid over the festive season or will get a reduced payment. About 67,000 people who work and are paid weekly will be hit, the Department of Work and Pensions says. Some will have to reapply for the benefit. That is because there are five paydays that month, so their monthly income will be too high to qualify – the benefit is based on a calendar month. The government says the benefit anticipates people’s circumstances. Universal credit merges six benefits for working-age…

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Universal credit: MPs urge government to cut waiting time

The six-week waiting time for universal credit should be cut and be a maximum of one month, MPs say. The Work and Pensions Select Committee said the six-week wait before claimants receive their first payment was causing “acute financial difficulty”. It said reducing the delay – designed to mimic waiting for a first pay cheque for a new job – would remove a “major obstacle” to the policy’s success. Theresa May has said the government was listening and was making changes. At Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May defended the…

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Archbishop calls for cut to universal credit delays

The six-week waiting time for universal credit must be cut as the idea that people have a nest egg to fall back on is “grotesquely ignorant”, the Archbishop of York has said. Writing in The Sunday Times, Dr John Sentamu said ministers must take a “courageous” look at the benefit. Addressing the delay must be a priority, he said. The government said it was determined to ensure people would not face hardship. Changes recently announced to the system of advanced payments meant people could access these as soon as they…

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Universal Credit: MPs to debate rollout amid Labour pause call

MPs are to debate the rollout of Universal Credit amid continuing calls for changes to the way the government’s flagship welfare programme is working. Labour is calling for the system, which merges six benefits into one, to be paused amid concerns about how long claimants wait to get the cash. Senior backbencher Frank Field said people were being “pushed towards destitution” on a growing scale. But ministers insist it is “safe to proceed” following “rigorous” testing. The government has said anyone in financial distress can apply for advance payments. The…

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Theresa May urged to halt Universal Credit roll-out

Families could be left homeless and destitute if Theresa May insists on pressing ahead with Universal Credit, a former top adviser has warned. Dame Louise Casey urged the prime minister to pause the roll-out of the new benefit system so it can be fixed. She told BBC Radio 4’s PM the consequences for families “close to the edge” could be “dire”. Twelve Conservative MPs have written to work and pensions secretary David Gauke to call for the same thing. Universal Credit ‘a factor in rent arrears’ The government says the…

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