This report identifies a range of problems arising from the rigid system of monthly assessment of both income and circumstances in Universal Credit, based on cases from CPAG’s Early Warning System, and proposes practical solutions. These cases show how the mismatch of pay cycles and assessment periods and the ‘whole-month’ approach to changes of circumstances can disadvantage claimants and leave people struggling to budget with unpredictable and arbitrary awards.
People can lose the effect of work allowances, be inappropriately benefit capped while in work, and lose out on support for housing costs. These problems were raised in Parliament as far back as 2012 when Universal Credit was still in the design stage. Powerful evidence is now emerging of their impacts, and it is hoped that more attention will be given to fixing those impacts if the system is to be ready for ‘managed migration’ to begin and manageable for all claimants, particularly those families with children.