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Universal Credit assessment period
People in receipt of Universal Credit receive the payment monthly in arrears. The amount of Universal Credit depends on the claimant’s income in the monthly assessment period. This has created substantial difficulties for people who receive two payments of wages in the same month, even though the wages are for different periods of employment. Many people who are paid their wages every four weeks experience substantial problems with Universal Credit because they receive 13 payments in the year meaning that in one month of the year, the Universal Credit calculation includes two payments of wages, substantially reducing or extinguishing entitlement to Universal Credit for that month.
Some people are paid monthly but on different days of the month, meaning that wages for two different months of employment would be included in the same Universal Credit monthly assessment period. The court of appeal recently heard a case brought by four women who lost Universal Credit for this reason. The court decided that the variations in their UC awards and the loss of the benefit, purely as a result of being paid their salaries on a day close to the start/end of their assessment period, were perverse and irrational. The DWP has amended regulations following this case.
DWP staff can, from 16th November, reallocate a second monthly payment from a claimant's employer into a different assessment period. This means that if, for example, people are paid early by their employer due to their regular monthly pay date falling on a weekend or bank holiday, they will not have two wages allocated to one assessment period. The application of this change is dependent upon the claimant requesting it and benefits people paid monthly on different days as opposed to people paid on a four-week cycle.
This year’s campaign is again very timely ahead of ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’, two of the biggest pre-Christmas shopping days.
It is expected that online shopping will continue to rise, and coronavirus measures will encourage its further growth as shoppers avoid the high street. This brings new challenges for both consumers and businesses, and the information shared through this campaign reflects these developments.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has produced a video highlighting the key messages for the campaign and looking at the rise of online marketplaces.