Early Warning System report on universal credit February 2020 | CPAG

Early Warning System report on universal credit February 2020

Post date: 
04 February 2020
Written by: 

Kirsty McKechnie

Welfare rights adviser, Early Warning System

The Early Warning System was developed by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland to collect and analyse case evidence about how social security changes are affecting the wellbeing of children, their families, and the communities and services that support them. This report provides an overview of evidence in relation to universal credit (UC) from October to December 2019, highlighting:

Confusion about when to claim UC or the benefits it is replacing has led to some people claiming UC prematurely or missing out on benefits that they would have been entitled to, had they know which one to claim earlier.

Some claimants need expert advice to access protection from the severe disability premium gateway, including people leaving prison.

Monthly calculation of entitlement continues to cause hardship for people in work who receive variable numbers of pay packets in an assessment period due to their pay cycles.

There is considerable evidence of people being under or overpaid UC. Overpayments are particularly problematic because all overpayments are recoverable, even when caused by DWP error.

Making and maintaining UC claims online continues to be a barrier to claiming, checking their journal and providing information to DWP.

EU nationals are often refused UC that they should be entitled to, or given misleading information about entitlement.

Evidence highlights the following groups are often worse off on UC: disabled workers; disabled people who were receiving a disability premium but not the severe disability premium; people who are receiving the severe disability transitional amount at a lower rate that the severe disability premium; mixed age couples.