In the 2017 Autumn Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond made a number of announcements regarding the Universal Credit benefits system which were welcomed by Heidi Allen, the MP for South Cambridgeshire.
From February 2018, the Government will reduce the initial 6 week waiting period to five weeks for all claimants, and for those receiving housing benefit, they will also receive an additional two weeks housing benefit payment. For claimants unable to wait five weeks for their first major payment, an advance loan payment will also be made available. This is double the advance previously offered and the repayment window has also been doubled to one year from six months.
Heidi Allen MP, whose lengthy campaign on Universal Credit focused on reducing the 6 week wait and keeping people out of rent arrears said: “I am so pleased by the announcements made by the Chancellor today. Not only have the Government listened to our concerns regarding the initial wait, they have additionally committed to paying a further two weeks of housing benefit to claimants moving on to UC. Housing payments make up the bulk of people’s outgoings, so this additional funding will make a real difference, taking the pressure of people struggling to get back on their feet. If I was worried about losing the roof over my head, I doubt very much I would be able to concentrate on much else.
“Securing these improvements is a vital step in making Universal Credit the ultimate poverty fighting machine it was designed to be. This was a team effort and I want to thank Ministers, my colleagues across the House and numerous charities such as the Citizens Advice Bureau who helped achieve this! It’s a real victory for common sense, compassion and the good that Government can do.”
You can also watch the Secretary of State's statement to the House which outlines more details about the changes announced in the Budget. You can see the statement here.
You can also read the Department's Written Statement outlining more detail regarding the £1.5 billion package at the link here.