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23 March 2020 22:34

Universal Credit Rishi Sunak Citizens Advice Scotland

DWP faces call to end Universal Credit sanctions and deductions during coronavirus

Self-employed workers are often more vulnerable than employees as they don't have a larger company backing their job or the same rights and benefits as someone in full-time employment. To be eligible for Universal Credit you need to be 'gainfully self employed' by meeting several criteria: self-employment is your main job or your main source of income you expect to make a profit If you are regarded as being gainfully self-employed whilst claiming Universal Credit you will not be expected to look, or be available, for other work. This is so self employed people can continue to work on their business despite coronavirus. If you earn more than the Minimum Income Floor, your Universal Credit payment will be based on your actual earnings. If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the Minimum Income Floor will not be applied for the period of time you are effected.

There are currently no provisions in place for self-employed people without coronavirus who have found themselves unable to work due to lack of need. But despite less government help being offered compared to for workers, there is some action the self-employed can benefit from. Self-employed people have been offered extra Universal Credit payments It comes as self-employed people will see take home pay fall by £781 a month on average if they have to claim Universal Credit compared to an 80 per cent wage guarantee (up to £2,500 a month) offered by chancellor Rishi Sunak for employed workers. That's according to charity Turn2Us, which also saw a 1,800 per cent weekly increase in self-employed people using its benefits calculator on Friday. David Samson, welfare benefits specialist at Turn2Us, said: "The exclusion from the coronavirus job retention scheme creates a huge disparity between salaried workers and the self-employed, penalising self-employed people by hundreds of pounds simply because of the nature of their employment." Universal Credit is the controversial new welfare system, which replaces six benefits - including working tax credit and housing benefit - with one monthly payment.

In addition, Mr Sunak suspended the self-employed Universal Credit minimum income floor for everyone affected by coronavirus. He says this will enable more self-employed people to access the benefit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for workers, which is at least £94.25 a week. The Universal Credit minimum income floor applies to those who've been self-employed for more than a year. But critics say the problem is that self-employed people's incomes fluctuates which means they can end up with less in benefits than those on fixed hours. Those off work from coronavirus may also be able to get help with their income loss by signing up to contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) either instead or at the same time as getting Universal Credit.

To be eligible, you need to have worked as an employee or been self-employed and paid enough National Insurance contributions in the past two to three years. The government has also given people longer to pay their income tax, extending payments due in July 2020 under self-assessment to January 2021. Anti-poverty campaigners have called for more action to be taken to help people on Universal Credit and other benefits during the coronavirus pandemic. Among them, the Universal Credit standard allowance is going up, and the minimum income floor for self-employed claimants has been temporarily lifted. She said: "We believe that the Government should go further to support people who may be pulled deeper into hardship by loss of income from work, and increasing costs." 2.

Putting in place a mechanism to give people immediate support whilst they apply for Universal Credit to keep them afloat during the five week wait (without pulling them into debt which may lengthen financial hardship). "We will be working with our partners over the coming weeks and months to understand how the unfolding Covid-19 situation is affecting people on low incomes, and what we believe is the right response from governments and other organisations." It comes as DWP has introduced a range of extra support and measures to help workers, including those who claim benefits and employees affected by the coronavirus. At the moment, those who are affected by coronavirus and need financial support quickly will be able to apply for Universal Credit online to receive a month's advance up front without visiting JobCentre. A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "We understand people who are required to stay at home and or are infected by coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly. Universal Credi t is designed to provide financial support to help those out of work or on a low income with daily living costs.

The Government has advised that people who do not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay could instead claim either Universal Credit or 'New Style' Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Which means if you are self-isolating at home because you have symptoms of coronavirus or live with someone who does, you could be entitled to help from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Furthermore, if you live with your partner their income and savings will be taken into account, even if they are not eligible for Universal Credit. However, your savings and capital (or your partner's savings, capital and income) are not taken into account when claiming 'New Style' Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) and this particular benefit can be obtained at the same time as Universal Credit - or on its own. entitledto - for information on income-related benefits, tax credits, contribution-based benefits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer's Allowance, Universal Credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start work

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