The team behind Money Saving Expert are warning claimants of Universal Credit who work could have been underpaid.
In the latest MSE newsletter, the website, founded by Martin Lewis, has warned those who receive Universal Credit, their payments may be wrong. According to MSE, 20,000 people could be affected because of a mistake.
In June 2022, 41 per cent of those on Universal Credit was employed, but depending on how they get paid, they could be at risk for being underpaid from DWP.
As they explain, there is a ‘flaw’ in the Government’s automated system. If you are working when being assessed for the benefit, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will relay details to Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) so they can give you the correct amount.
However, if your employer sends over your wages without your national insurance number, there can be a delay leading to an incorrect payment. As MSE warns: “DWP uses the date it receives the earnings info to decide which assessment period it applies to – NOT the date you actually got paid.”
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This means it could appear you earn less than they did, which means you receive more UC than you are actually eligible to and then get landed with a hefty bill to pay back to DWP.
Or it could look like you are being paid more than you do – leading to your UC benefits beng less than what you are entitled to. But the money saving experts add that you shouldn’t expect it to balance out month-by-month and should phone DWP to see if they can sort it out over the phone.
As MSE states, those most likely to be impacted by this issue are if you;
- Get paid weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly, or irregularly.
- Employers didn’t ask you to provide a national insurance number when you gave your payment information.
- Be paid close to the end of your universal credit assessment period.
- You’ve just started a new job.
To fix it, you can phone the DWP and see if they can amend it over the phone, or ask for a mandatory reconsideration, or submit an appeal.
You can see more information here.