- MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney urges UK Government to act now on current five-week first payment wait for Universal Credit
- Currently anyone applying for Universal Credit must wait at least five weeks for first payment; many unable to pay bills and rent as a result
- According to Citizens Advice Bureau, Universal Credit raised 1,882 times in cases in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney constituency in 2018-19
- DWP figures for 2019 so far show 14% of claimants did not receive their first payment in full on time; 1 in 10 has not received any payment at all on time
On Monday 1 July in Parliament, Gerald Jones, MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, challenged the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the current five-week wait for initial Universal Credit payments, and urged the UK Government to act now and end the five-week period.
Under current rules, everyone applying for Universal Credit benefit must wait at least five weeks for their first payment, while in some cases the wait is much longer, leaving many people without enough money to get by during the waiting period, with some facing eviction or turning to food banks as a result.
Gerald said: “It is shocking that last year, 1,882 people contacted my local Citizens Advice Bureau in relation to debt linked to Universal Credit. Surely that is an indication of how many people are finding difficulty in managing during that initial five-week wait.
“Sadly, this Government does not understand the scale of the hardship it is causing with Universal Credit; hardship that I see from the almost daily issues raised with me by constituents across Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney.”
The Trussell Trust, a food bank charity and StepChange, a debt charity, are among the organisations calling for a solution to the five-week wait for initial Universal Credit payments, with pressure mounting on the UK Government to act, while as many as 15 opposition MPs, including Gerald Jones, raised problems with Universal Credit during Work and Pensions Questions on Monday.
However, in her response to Gerald in the House of Commons, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd refused to even mention the five-week wait, confirming only that the repayment period for advance Universal Credit payments was to be extended.