Hardship now, or hardship later?
We're supporting The Trussell Trust's ‘Five weeks too long’ campaign to end the wait for Universal Credit payments.
Unlike the legacy benefits it replaces, Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears. This approach means that there's a five-week wait for the first payment (four weeks and an extra payment processing week).
The intention behind this design was to ‘mirror the world of work’ but it's not an approach suited to helping people in financial need. By the time people seek help, they've often exhausted their resources and need support quickly.
People receiving legacy benefits like tax credits are now also being transferred to Universal Credit when they have some changes of circumstances (like becoming sick or moving in with a partner) and are suddenly faced with a long gap in support through no fault of their own.