World News

New furlough rules start today – what they mean for pay and working hours

Furlough was designed by the government, and introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak back in March. The measure, otherwise known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, was part of a wide range of actions taken by the government to offer financial help during the pandemic. Original rules stated the government would cover 80 percent of a person’s salary up to £2,500 to keep Britons in employment.


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This is alongside National Insurance and pension contributions which are valuable to both employers and employees. 

The furlough scheme, while widely successful, is due to undergo a number of changes until it draws to a close in October.

The first change takes place today, and is the initial step in winding down the scheme which has cost the government a significant amount. 

Today, July 1, ushers in Stage Two of the furlough scheme, which is being dubbed as ‘flexible furlough’. 

These new rules have been ushered in, in the aim of getting Britons back to work and the economy back to normal as much as possible. 

The new rules could mean some people will see their full amount of pay, at least for some of the time, in a welcome announcement.

Employees on flexible furlough will be able to perform some work for their employer under full pay, and then be furloughed at 80 percent of pay for the rest of the time spent at home. 

This is, however, the only change taking place in terms of pay for this month.

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The government will still be contributing 80 percent of salaries up to £2,500 alongside the other working contributions familiar in the scheme. 

From today, only those who have been previously claimed for under the furlough scheme are eligible to continue under furlough.

This means those who haven’t been furloughed previously can expect to work from home or in their usual environment as normal. 

Another change is that from today onwards, there is no minimum furlough period.


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This could lead to employers rotating their workers more rapidly on the scheme.

But the government also states furlough arrangements must cover a period of at least one week. 

Mr Sunak announced the changes recently, and spoke about kick starting the economy.

He said: “To protect jobs and help businesses decide how quickly to bring their workforce back, we are introducing a new, more flexible furlough.

“This is a critical part of our plan to kickstart the economy. The financial security of the furlough scheme has been a relief for many, but at the same time people want to work.

“No one wants to be at home on furlough. No one wants to feel unable to contribute. 

“We will develop new measures to grow the economy, to back business, to boost skills and to help people thrive in the new post-COVID world.”

In June, it was reported that one in four UK workers had been placed on furlough.

Some 8.9 million people had been affected by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with the cost skyrocketing.

The scheme was initially intended to draw to a close at the end of July, but was extended by the government to October.

More changes will take place from August to October, meaning employers will be required to take on more financial responsibility. 

Source: Read Full Article


Sturgeon’s economic catastrophe: Scottish businesses have WORST confidence in whole of UK

The latest Business Barometer, which surveyed 1,200 businesses, from the Bank of Scotland, showed that companies in Scotland felt less confident than other nations. When asked about the impact of COVID-19, more than one third of businesses said they expected to be operating at more than 50 percent capacity by the end of June.


However, one fifth said they do not expect to be open at all by then, while 21 percent said they thought it would take around three months to be operating at pre-lockdown levels.

The majority of businesses have also seen a fall in demand during June with just five percent reporting an increase in demand.

Across the UK, business confidence grew marginally month-on-month, rising three points to -30 percent.

The West Midlands was the least pessimistic region at -18 percent, followed jointly by Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East at -23 percent.

It comes after the Scottish Government said that it needed to borrow up to £500 million more to deal with the impact of coronavirus, as well as having greater flexibility over its capital budget.

A formal request was sent to the Treasury on Friday.

At the same time, Boris Johnson set out his plan to get the UK back on track post coronavirus which included investing more than £5bn in Infrastructure.

The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery said in its Scottish Economic Recovery Report that urgent action was needed to develop a stronger relationship between business and government on how they can recover from COVID-19.

READ MORE: Sturgeon crisis: Scotland faces eye-watering 50% rise in council tax

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While the results suggest the economy may be starting to see some improvement, trading conditions remain difficult for most firms as the majority are still experiencing disruption to supply chains.

“Hopefully the recent Government announcement of further relaxation of restrictions and the slight easing of social distancing measures will enable more businesses to reach their capacity and resume their usual activities, which we would expect to be reflected in further improvements to optimism next month.”

Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said that the plans to rebuild the economy must be backed with “intent, collaboration and investment of a scale not seen since the last century”.

She added: “The Prime Minister set out a compelling case for investing in infrastructure and we urge both the Scottish & UK Government to work together to put shovel-ready projects on the table and deliver investment to ensure the economy is supported in the immediate, medium and long term.

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“Boosting consumer confidence by announcing VAT cuts, providing further job security by extending the furlough scheme for the hardest-hit sectors and providing guaranteed opportunities for our young people are just some of the immediate steps both Governments should collaborate on and deliver for business.

“The Scottish Government must ensure all consequential funding is allocated towards rehabilitating the economy and creating jobs.”

The Scottish Government said it would respond to Mr Higgins’ report by July 31st. 

Source: Read Full Article

World News

Mortgage UK: Britons struggling to keep up with payments – help provided

Mortgage payments have been greatly affected by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Job losses and furlough have affected the financial circumstances of many, having a drastic effect on the regular payments. As such a significant life commitment, mortgage payments are often top of the agenda for many families.


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However, it is clear they have borne the brunt of the lockdown measures across the country.

Arrears on many household bills have greatly increased in the last month, but payments in the property market have been significant.

A report released by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed mortgage payments took a 14 percent drop when compared to payments before the pandemic.

Many people are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments, and the figures have only reflected this further.

In addition, rent payments have decreased by 11 percent below predicted amounts, and council tax payments dropped by nine percent.

The IFS said: “This represents a further deterioration since April, suggesting some households were increasingly struggling to make ends meet.”

According to research, average UK household earnings also witnessed a nine percent drop from April to May, demonstrating the continuation of financial issues across the country.

This was equivalent to a loss of approximately £160 per month, which could be significant for many people.

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However, the IFS said there were no signs of a recovery, in dire news for the British economy.

The drop in mortgage payments is likely to be explained by the introduction of payment freezes, necessary for many during this time. 

Mortgage holidays first began in March, but were recently extended for another three months to help those in need.

The measures were widely welcomed as vital support for the many affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 


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However, a wide range of experts have warned Britons to think carefully before taking this option. 

Speaking on ITV, Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert, said: “When you take a mortgage payment holiday, it is not that you don’t have to pay, you’re deferring the payment until later.

“The interest rate whacks up and you still have to make that payment back.”

For this reason, many people may have to face higher bills when they return to paying their mortgage.

This decision could impact finances greatly, and so it is important to consider this before taking the freeze. 

John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, stated he was in favour of mortgage holidays to provide additional support to Britons at this difficult time.

He said: “We’re doing everything we can to help people with their finances at this difficult time and that includes making sure people get the support they need with their mortgages.

“Everyone’s circumstances will be different, so when homeowners can pay some or all of their mortgage, they should work with their lender on a plan. 

“But if they are still struggling, I want them to know that help is there.”

Source: Read Full Article

World News

State Pension UK: Triple Lock value set to soar in comparison to earnings

State Pension is a sum which is provided to those of an eligible age to assist them during retirement. However, a pledge in 2011 by the then-coalition government aimed to protect the pension sum even further. The Triple Lock guarantees that the basic state pension will rise each tax year, in April, by a minimum of either 2.5 percent, the rate of inflation, or average earnings.


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But a think tank has said the Triple Lock mechanism will drastically increase pension payments by 7.6 percent between 2020 and 2022.

This is likely to greatly exceed the predicted average earnings growth of 1.5 percent. 

The research was undertaken by the Resolution Foundation, and showed the rising value of the State Pension year on year.

The think tank reported that a predicted volatile period for earnings, due to the financial implications of COVID-19 is likely to make the value of pensions under the Triple Lock system skyrocket. 

The economy, and average incomes, are likely to take a significant hit due to the lockdown, but it is hoped the situation will right itself over time.

However, as the government looks for ways to recoup the cost of the lockdown, many have called for the Triple Lock to be scrapped. 

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) has called for the scheme to be binned in order to fund the coronavirus crisis. 

In recent analysis, the think tank said the government bill to tackle the COVID-19 crisis should be equally shared between those of working age and those who have retired.

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And a document reported on by the Telegraph suggested that figures within the Treasury may be looking to scrap the protection. 

Officials appear to have advised the Chancellor Rishi Sunak that is is “better to break the tax lock to achieve revenue of this scale than attempt to raise this level of revenue with this constraint.”

They estimate the government could save approximately £8billion per annum “when compared to the base case”. 

Other research has also demonstrated the growing value of the State Pension.


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The Institute for Fiscal Studies stated that between April 2010 and April 2016, the value of the state pension increased by 22.2 percent.

This is compared to growth in earnings of 7.6 percent, and growth in prices of 12.3 percent, when considering the same period.

However, those worried about their Triple Lock entitlement may not have to worry at all.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently vowed he would “meet all manifesto commitments” when asked about his pledge to keep the Triple Lock activated.

This was a sentiment shared by the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab who told LBC there were “no plans to touch the Triple Lock”.

State Pension is usually paid every four weeks to claimants and the day they receive the sum is based on the last two digits of their National Insurance number. 

Pensioners who retired before April 6, 2016, are entitled to the ‘old’ State Pension system which could see them receive up to £134.25 per week.

Newer retirees fall under the New State Pension scheme and could gain up to £175.25 a week. 

Source: Read Full Article

World News

RBS: The leading savings accounts and opportunities for Britons

RBS, otherwise known as the Royal Bank of Scotland, provides a variety of savings options for Britons who are looking to get the most out of their money. The well-known bank has three main savings accounts currently on offer on an instant access basis. Dependent on how Britons choose to access their money, and how much interest they are looking to accumulate, different accounts may suit their personal needs.


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Savers with a balance of £10,000 appear to be best suited to the RBS Savings Builder.

Available to current account customers aged 16 and over, the Savings Builder is designed to help people to build up their savings pot.

The account allows customers to earn up to 1.00 percent variable in interest rate if they grow their savings by £50 or more each month. 

However, the account does provide flexibility if a person, for whatever reason, cannot afford to save in a particular month.

In a month where a person can’t afford to grow their savings by at least £50, this just means they will not earn interest for that particular month.

The account can be opened and managed via mobile, online or in branch providing convenience for savers.

There is also no minimum deposit required to open the account, which is good news for those who are just getting started on their savings journey.

For potentially the more experienced saver, the Instant Saver account could suit circumstances.

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With this account there is no need to deposit regularly, providing the flexibility that many savers are looking for. 

Once again open to customers aged 16 and over, the account can be applied for in just five minutes, and savings can start from £1.

The interest rate on the Instant Saver currently stands at 0.01 percent variable. 

Larger savers, with a balance of over £25,000, may opt for the Premium Saver account.


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While the account is instant access, RBS rewards savers with bonus interest for every month they leave their savings untouched.

For customers with a balance of between £25,000 and £49,999, 0.10 percent can be gained in bonus interest.

And for those with a balance between £50,000 and £1million, up to 0.35 percent interest can be gained.

This is particularly attractive given the low interest rates currently offered by many providers.

RBS has also offered advice to Britons on how best to save money amid the lockdown measures across the country.

As a first point of reference, Britons are advised to review their subscriptions such as Spotify and Netflix, to see whether they could save on regular outgoings. 

In a similar way, membership fees for fitness organisations could also be wasted while gyms are closed, so it is important to check.

The bank advises people to set aside time to look through their income and expenditure, to eliminate unnecessary costs. 

And finally, moving spare cash into a savings account helps savers to adopt healthy savings habits.

Source: Read Full Article

World News

Triple lock pension: What is a triple lock? Pension increase at risk due to COVID-19

The State Pension is a weekly Government payment to those of State Pension age. The amount a person is eligible to receive in their State Pension will depend on how long they’ve been contributing to their pension in the form of National Insurance contributions. The triple lock guarantee ensures a minimum increase in the State Pension every year.

What is the triple lock?

The triple lock pension was introduced by the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition Government in 2011.

The triple lock was introduced to protect the State Pension from inflation.

Under the triple lock guarantee, the State Pension will rise by a minimum of either the rate of inflation, average earnings growth or at least 2.5 percent – whichever is higher.

Prior to the introduction of the triple lock pension, the State Pension raise was influenced by the retail prices index (RPI).


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Before the 2015 general election, the Conservatives pledged to keep the triple lock until 2020.

But when Theresa May was PM, it was widely reported some Conservatives believed the pledge should be based on a double lock rather than a triple lock.

This would have meant pension increases were only based on rises in earnings and inflation, and the 2.5 percent minimum would have been scrapped.

For the 2019 Conservative manifesto, the party pledged to keep the triple lock in place.

Is the triple lock pension at risk due to COVID-19?

According to the Financial Times, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to break the 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge over the triple lock.

Mr Sunak is said to have been warned the value of the State Pension could sharply rise unless he breaks the pledge next year.

The reports come as the Treasury stated in official forecasts that wages could rise dramatically in 2021 after this year’s dip in wages due to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme recovers.


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April 2021 pension payments are not expected to be affected by the dip in wages this year, due to the minimum 2.5 percent annual increase.

However, as wages recover after the end of the scheme, it could have a dramatic impact on the State Pension for the following year.

Any changes to the triple lock pension have not yet been announced by Mr Sunak.

Number 10 and the Treasury said in a joint statement to the FT: “Announcements on tax and pensions policy are for Budgets.

“The government is committed to supporting pensioners.”

Number 10 also played down claims the triple lock will be axed at a Westminster briefing.

A Number 10 source said: “These are unique and challenging economic circumstances and we cannot hide from that.

“As you know, decisions on tax and pension policy are set out at Budget by the Chancellor but there are no plans to abolish the triple lock and we will always stand by pensioners.”

Asked if it could be suspended for a year or two, the source said: “I’m not going to speculate on what inflation might be in future.”

Source: Read Full Article

World News

Child Maintenance: Mothers challenge ‘persistent failure’ of the DWP over benefit

Child Maintenance is described by the government website as an “arrangement between one person and the other parent of their child” and is drafted formally with government assistance. It usually covers how a child’s living costs will be paid when parents are separated, and both parents are responsible for the costs. But four UK mothers are now challenging the Child Maintenance Service from the DWP, stating it has shown “persistent failure”. 


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The mothers are set to take the DWP to court, stating the government department’s Child Maintenance failures have left them in dire straits.

They told the DWP they would be undertaking a judicial review if possible, after they were driven to financial difficulty, “and, in some cases, in poverty”.

The four mothers explained how they were owed payments between £2,000 and £8,000, dating back several years.

They stated they were forced to rely on food banks and the generosity of others in order to provide for their children.

Some were even required to take on credit card debt to make ends meet. 

One mother said: “My children go without every single day because their father absolutely refuses to put his hand in his pocket.

“The Child Maintenance Service, despite having a huge raft of powers at its disposal, does nothing meaningful to force him to cough up.

“I go without so my children don’t. I never go out, and I never spend money on myself. I don’t want my boys to be stigmatised.”

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The legal challenge could affect how the Child Maintenance payment is managed in the future.

The women are set to be supported in their legal challenge by the charity Gingerbread.

Gingerbread is a charity which works with single parent families to provide them with the necessary help and support they may need when raising their children.

The charity has claimed the Child Maintenance Service has collected just over £30million through enforcement actions – which require parents to pay. 


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This, however, is less than 10 percent of the amount owed to single parents across the country. 

Victoria Benson, the chief executive of the charity, said: “It is a child’s legal right to be supported by both parents, and yet the service designed to protect this right is failing them.

“It simply cannot be right that a government service is responsible for leaving children of single parents in poverty.”

A DWP spokesperson told “While we cannot comment on current proceedings, those found to be abusing the system will find themselves subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers – including prosecution through the courts.

“We have introduced tough Child Maintenance powers to help ensure children receive the financial support they deserve, with 70 per cent of Child Maintenance due in the Collect & Pay service successfully collected in the three months to March – up from 50 per cent in 2016.”

The DWP states the majority of child maintenance debt relates to the Child Support Agency, which was replaced by the CMS in 2018.

While some split parents sort out the arrangements for their children between them, others will need the government to step in to create a more formal arrangement.

Source: Read Full Article

World News

Britons save £1.8billion amid lockdown – popular ways to cut costs

Money saving can often prove a difficult endeavour, however, some have suggested this process has been eased by remaining at home for a number of months, and non-essential business closures. But a new report analysing the lockdown spending habits of Britons has revealed the major ways people can save money, and how they can achieve this. The survey undertaken by savings marketplace Raisin UK showed an equivalent of £1.8billion in savings were made throughout lockdown, through simple reductions.


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Since government guidelines came into place urging Britons to remain at home, money has been saved on commuting, socialising and dining out amongst other areas.

The survey asked 2,000 people about their spending habits and revealed the average Briton has been saving up to £700 per month since guidelines were introduced.

Although furlough has affected many, 44 percent of those asked reported an increase in their savings through lifestyle changes, with 28 percent saying this time opened their eyes to the fact they had few savings to fall back on in emergencies. 

But as the UK slowly adjusts to a new normal, where lockdown measures are gradually eased, how can Britons carry their saving habits over?

The survey also showed the main areas people were now hoping to save in going forward.

Out of those asked, 31 percent of Britons said they would be saving more money on takeaways, with 21 percent cutting down on alcohol and 10 percent spending less on cigarettes.

The data showed a total of 32 percent of those surveyed said they would be adapting their spending habits totally.

Several savers have also gone online to share the habits they have stuck to during this time, and how they were able to cut costs.

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One wrote: “I have managed to save during lockdown by resisting the urge to buy online.

“Although I’m not shopping in store, I’m not going to transfer those habits over to shopping online. Especially not buying expensive items.”

Another said: “I’ve managed to lose weight and save money by only shopping with a basket at the supermarket.

“I can only carry so much, so I only get what I need. This is key for people who pick up lots of items when they are at their local shop.”


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A third saver stated they were now being more vigilant with prices at the supermarket, writing: “Most supermarkets post a per-ounce price on the tag.

“You should double check to make sure you are getting the size that provides the most food for your money. And make sure you don’t buy more food than you can eat before it spoils.”

A fourth person stated the lockdown enabled them to reevaluate their direct debit payments, and save on regular outgoings.

They wrote: “You should be able to save money on automatic debit payments by evaluating what you need. 

“I cut off subscription based TV and now essentially only use the internet, with my friend giving me his pass for sport, and that has saved me a lot of money.”

And a fifth said ditching one habit allowed them to make savings they were planning to carry over going forward.

They said: “I have saved so much money by not going to the barber during lockdown. Cut your own hair! The cost of that weekly cut can really add up.”

Commenting on the findings from the recent report, co-founder of Raisin UK, Kevin Mountford, said: “Lockdown has shifted our outlook on money because, for many of us, our financial circumstances have been forced to change. 

“For 22 percent of us the lockdown has shown how rewarding it is to have money put away – with that figure increasing to 28 percent among furloughed workers. It’s encouraging to see that, as a nation, we’re taking the time to develop better habits when it comes to our spending and saving.”

Source: Read Full Article

World News

Universal Credit: How can I get an advance payment on Universal Credit?

The Government recently increased its budget for benefits such as Universal Credit due to the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic has caused a period of financial hardship for many people, who may need to seek financial support from the Government. Universal Credit payments can take up to five weeks to be processed, but it is possible to apply for an advance Universal Credit payment if you need money more urgently.

How can I get an advance payment?

You may need help to cover your costs while waiting for your first Universal Credit payment.

If this is the case, you can apply to the Government to receive an advance payment.

The maximum amount you can receive in advance is the amount of your first estimated payment.


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To apply for an advance, you can do so via your Universal Credit online account.

You can also apply through your JobCentre Plus work coach if you have one.

The Government website states you will need to explain why you need an advance in your application, and verify your identity.

You will also need to provide bank account details for the advance, and you will usually be told the same day if you have been approved for an advance payment.

It is important to bear in mind if you do receive an advance, you will have to start paying it back out of your first Universal Credit payment.

The advance must be paid back within 12 months, and is interest-free, but you can decide the period you want to pay it back in.

The Government website states: “You will need to pay back your advance a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments, or by other means if you no longer get Universal Credit, for example, from your wages or other benefit you may be getting.

“If you are already receiving Universal Credit you may also be able to get a Budgeting Advance to help pay for emergency household costs, for example, buying a new cooker or for help getting a job or staying in work.”


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In exceptional circumstances, you can ask to delay repaying your advance back for up to three months.

If you are no longer getting Universal Credit further down the line, but have not paid back your advance, you will need to keep making payments.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will send you a letter, which outlines exactly how much you owe.

If you do not follow the instructions on this letter and contact the DWP Debt Management Contact Centre, the Department may contact your new employer to arrange deductions to be made, or an independent debt collection agency may be in touch.

How can I apply for Universal Credit?

If you want to apply for Universal Credit, you can do so via the Government website.

If you live with your partner, you need to claim for Universal Credit as a couple.

If you cannot use the online service, you can contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644, Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.

Source: Read Full Article

World News

Universal Credit: Do you have to pay back Universal Credit?

Universal Credit will come in handy for many people who have found themselves out of work this month due to the coronavirus pandemic. But what exactly is Universal Credit? And do you have to pay it back?

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit payment paid to those in need.

It replaces some of the following legacy benefits and tax credits:

  • Housing Benefit.
  • Child Tax Credit.
  • Income Support.
  • Working Tax Credit.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

It is paid monthly in arrears in England, Wales and Scotland, but you can ask for fortnightly payments instead in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, it is paid every two weeks, but you can request a monthly payment instead.

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Do you have to pay back Universal Credit?

You only have to pay back Universal Credit if one of the following things have happened:

  • You did not report a change straight away
  • You gave wrong information
  • You were overpaid by mistake

You could be taken to court or have to pay a penalty if you give wrong information or don’t report a change in your circumstances.

Do you have to pay back a Universal Credit advance?

Yes, you will have to pay back a Universal Credit advance.

You can apply for an advance before your first payment, or if your circumstances have changed but you haven’t been paid the increased amount yet.

The online Government guidance says: “You will need to repay an advance from future Universal Credit payments or by other means if you no longer get Universal Credit, such as from wages or other benefits you may be getting.

“Deductions are made from your monthly Universal Credit payment.

“The first deduction is made on the day you get your first payment and you’ll have up to 12 months to pay back the advance.

“You can ask for your repayments to be delayed for up to 3 months if you can’t afford them.

“This is only allowed in exceptional circumstances.”

Find more information here.

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  • Universal Credit: How to get an advance payment on Universal Credit

Who can claim Universal Credit?

You don’t have to be unemployed to receive Universal Credit, you can work as many hours as you like.

You might be able to claim Universal Credit if the following statements apply to you:

  • You’re out of work or on a low income
  • You’re aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17)
  • You or your partner are under state pension age
  • You and your partner have less than £16,000 in savings
  • You live in the UK

How much is Universal Credit?

The amount you receive in Universal Credit varies from person to person.

It is made up of a basic allowance, plus additional costs on top of things like housing costs, caring, disability, or having children.

It also depends on how much income you are receiving from working, your pension, other benefits, or savings of more than £6,000.

The rates have increased as of this month.

Claimants who are single and under 25 will receive £251.77 per month, and singletons over 25 will get £317.82.

If couples under 25 apply together they will get £395.20, but if both are over 25 they will get £498.89 each.

How long does it take to get Universal Credit?

The assessment period means you won’t get your payment until at least a month after you’ve applied for Universal Credit.

This is because it is paid monthly in arrears.

After this, you will have to wait an additional week for the payment to arrive in your bank account.

Source: Read Full Article