More than 100,000 children could face severe financial hardship over the Christmas holiday period because of Universal Credit delays.
Peabody, one of the UK’s biggest housing associations has warned ministers that thousands of families who applied for the new benefit after 20th November, will not receive any benefit until after the Christmas period, due to a 35-day wait period. And estimated 116,000 children will be affected.
Ministers have been urged to reduce the wait time, in a tweet, Peabody said: “Reducing the wait to a fortnight from the start of a Universal Credit claim would make a huge difference to thousands of vulnerable families across the country.”
The delay period was first introduced to mirror monthly salary payments but has been heavily criticised, and administrative issues left some claimants with an almost 12 week delay.
Many families will turn to the government’s emergency loans system which is now available to those in financial difficulties during the handover to Universal Credit, but critics of the new system have warned that it leaves claimants locked into debt repayments.
Anya Martin, policy officer at Peabody, said: “People having to use their benefits to repay the government means that this hardship continues even when regular payments have kicked in.
“Reducing the waiting period to two weeks from the start of a claim would make a huge difference to thousands of vulnerable families across the country.”
Speaking to The Guardian, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson, said “There’s no reason for people to be without money over Christmas because advance payments are widely available.
“Anyone applying for Universal Credit can get an advance of up to 100% upfront, payable on the same day if someone is in urgent need.”