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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.
New polling by Citizens Advice has found:
? 96% of people say they have ordered a parcel since March
? The biggest problem consumers face is late delivery, with almost one in three
people (30%) across the country facing a delay
? Nearly one in five people (18%) who experience a parcel issue suffered some sort
of financial loss, with 40% of those losing over £20.
Citizens Advice Senior Consumer Expert, Kate Hobson, gives her top tips to help
people with their parcel deliveries:
1. Check delivery policies - before you place an order find out what the delivery
times, costs and returns policies are of the items you have ordered.
2. If you’re out of the house during delivery - Consider asking a neighbour or
friend if it can be delivered to their address if you think it may be a time or date
you are not home. But beware, if you do provide details of a safe space or
nominated neighbour and something goes wrong it’s not the seller or courier’s
3. Online trader or online marketplace? - Make sure you know if you are dealing
with a trader or a private seller on an online marketplace as dispute processes
may vary. If you have an issue with a trader, a dispute can be raised directly with
them, but if it’s a private individual it may be easier to go through a
marketplace's dispute process.
4. Review traders - Check and review if the trader is genuine. It’s always worth
taking a look at reviews to gain an insight as to how reliable the company is and
how well they deal with missing parcel complaints and refunds.
5. Who to deal with when a parcel goes missing - your purchase and contract is
with the seller. If your parcel goes missing you should speak to the trader to deal
with the problem, not the courier company.
Tel: 03000 231080
Out-of-hours contact number: 0845 099 0107