Natalie Williams
Our response to today's budget

Over the last few weeks, Jubilee+ has joined other national charities in urging the Government to pause the rollout of Universal Credit while it fixes the inbuilt six-week gap between claims and initial payments. We have worked with the Trussell Trust foodbank network, in particular, to lobby the Government to fix this fundamental flaw with the system that has been pushing people into (or further into) poverty.

We are pleased that the Government has listened to our concerns and has today, in the Autumn Budget, taken some vital first steps in addressing some of the problems with the way Universal Credit works. While there was no news of the pause we were hoping for, there were some crucial concessions – Chancellor Philip Hammond announced:

  • The removal of the seven-day waiting period at the beginning of a claim;
  • An advance payment of a full month’s claim will now be available for those who need it within five days of a applying;
  • The repayment period for advances has been extended from six months to 12;
  • Housing benefit will continue to be paid for two weeks after the Universal Credit claim has been submitted, rather than ending immediately.

Jubilee+ welcomes these announcements. We’re thankful that the Government is listening to concerns about the impact of the way Universal Credit is operated.

We are pleased that the six-week gap has been reduced to five weeks, but will continue to urge the Government to reduce it further still.

We are also pleased that the advance payment system has been modified, though we still have serious concerns about the debt this is leaving people with – now for 12 months, making repayments smaller, but nevertheless still meaning that people on Universal Credit will not receive the full amount they are entitled to for a year after their claim is accepted.

The housing benefit extension is particularly welcome. But again, it still leaves people with a three-week gap when they may struggle to pay their rent or fall into rent arrears.

We are thankful for the changes announced today, but hope we will hear of more wide-ranging adjustments when Work & Pensions Secretary David Gauke addresses the House of Commons tomorrow.