Universal Credit loophole fixed giving 200,000 pensioners £350 each

THOUSANDS of Universal Credit claimants will be given a guaranteed one-off payment when they hit state pension age after a loophole in the benefit system was fixed by the government.

Campaigners had argued that the flaw pushed some elderly benefit claimants into poverty by leaving them without money for up to nine weeks.

Instead of moving straight onto the state pension, some claimants found their Universal Credit payments being stopped weeks before they hit retirement age.

This would usually be claimants who are approaching retirement age but aren’t entitled to Pension Credit, for example because they have a small private pension.

This would be deemed a change in circumstances during their final assessment period, meaning a reduced payment and up to 30 days without cash.

They would then also face a five-week wait for their first state pension payment to arrive.

What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit

IF you're experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don't cover costs, here are your options:

Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit pay out.

Alternative Payment Arrangements– If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.

Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the government to help with emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.

Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your payments aren't enough to cover your rent.

Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussel Trust website.

Under the new rules, the government says Universal Credit claimants who reach state pension age “will receive a run-on” of a one-off payment.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey says this will benefit approximately 200,000 pensioners over the next five years.

Each person will get an average of £350 from the one-off payment, she said, at a cost of £70million to the government.

She added: “I can today announce that we will amend regulations to smooth the transition from Universal Credit to pensioner benefits and remove any potential gap in support.

“This top-up will ensure pensioners aren’t left in limbo when they’re waiting to get their State Pension, with an average boost of £350.

“Since 2010 around 100,000 pensioners have moved out of poverty, thanks to policies such as the triple lock.”

The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed to The Sun that the change comes into force today after first being raised by Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami.

You way you can claim for benefits and Universal Credit is finally changing – and it might help.

Plus, keep an eye on your Universal Credit and other benefit payments as they could be paid up to four days early this year.

We've also rounded-up eight ways to get around Universal Credit and jobcentre issues.

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