The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said Universal Credit claimants have started to get the April 10.1% increase in their monthly payments.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that’s a good thing. However, not only is this increase not enough money, the DWP has also pulled a bit of a fast one with people’s benefits payments – because some people are not seeing the increase until June. Moreover, it’s also conned countless people out of some of the increase.
Universal Credit: when is an increase not an increase?
The DWP brought in the rise in benefits like Universal Credit in April. However, as the Canary previously reported, a 10.1% increase is not as good as it sounds. That’s because inflation, the rate at which prices of things rise, has been higher than 10.1%. So, all the DWP has actually done is take people’s benefits up to the real-terms rate they were at back in April 2022.
That is, your Universal Credit money is now only worth what it was a year ago. That’s no meaningful increase at all. Moreover, in real terms, it’s less than people got before the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. As the Canary previously wrote:
DWP benefits rates won’t get back to pre-pandemic levels until April 2025. So, claimants will constantly be worse off until then.
This is hardly what the DWP and the government have been trumpeting. The department announced on Twitter on 9 April that:
That’s a funny kind of support – leaving people worse off than before the pandemic. However, this isn’t the only problem with the DWP’s benefits increase.
DWP: con artists
As the Mirror reported, the DWP has only just started giving Universal Credit claimants the 10.1% increase in their bank accounts. Payments started from 16 May – despite the department framing it as though the increase would start on 10 April. The only reason this is widespread knowledge is because a minister admitted it in response to a parliamentary question.
The DWP pays Universal Credit claimants in arrears – so people are only just getting April’s money. Moreover, some people won’t be getting the increase until June. This is due to when their Universal Credit assessment periods fall.
However, that’s not the whole story. The actual 10.1% increase started on 10 April. As the Mirror wrote, this is because:
increases in Universal Credit would come into force from the start of the first assessment period beginning on or after the first Monday of the tax year.
The new tax year started on Thursday 6 April. This means that if a claimant’s Universal Credit assessment period began on 6,7,8, or 9 April – then they would get the whole month at the old rate of pay.
As one Universal Credit claimant said on Twitter:
Benefits claimants left to suffer
So because of a few days, and a DWP sleight of hand, countless claimants have lost out on nearly a whole month of the increase. Of course, some people knew this already. The Canary received a letter from a reader saying this at the start of May.
It is impossible to know how many claimants are affected. The DWP does not release data on how many people’s assessment periods start on certain days of the month. What we do know is the DWP has probably saved itself a huge wad of cash by delaying the 10.1% increase by four days.
Meanwhile, as always it’s poor, chronically ill, and disabled people this toxic department leaves to suffer.
Featured image via Videoblogg Productions/the Canary