Fortnightly payments to stay under universal credit
Benefits will continue to be paid fortnightly under the government’s welfare reforms if recipients are unable to manage monthly budgeting.
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith yesterday told the House of Commons that there may be ‘interim two-weekly payments’ for some under universal credit.
‘We are looking to trial a whole series of arrangements to make that much easier for them, and we will make sure that that happens,’ he said.
Under universal credit, which is due to be implemented from October 2013, benefit recipients will get a single monthly payment combining a range of existing benefits – including housing benefit.
The government argues moving to a monthly payment will help people who are unemployed make the transition into work. However concerns have been raised that some people will struggle to manage their finances and end up getting into debt.
Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘We are putting in place requirements so that people may receive their money on a two-weekly basis if they are unable to cope.
‘We recognise that when we introduce this process, people will have to transition into it so that they are not left with a period without any money. All that is under consideration. We are trialling the programmes to ensure that we get this right.’
Universal credit has come under fire from a range of directions in recent days. Over the weekend it emerged 70 groups have written to the work and pensions select committee – which is conducting an inquiry into universal credit – raising concerns.
And yesterday the government’s ‘poverty tsar’, Labour MP Frank Field, claimed there are ‘fundamental problems’ with universal credit, and that it will be a ‘disaster’, in an article for the Guardian.
These issues are likely to be raised in a House of Commons debate on universal credit later today.