Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Welfare
31 October 2017

The government’s own logic shows Universal Credit makes no sense

Controversial monthly payments are supposed to reflect the world of work. 

By Julia Rampen

Universal Credit, the new “simple” benefit that has made life infinitely more complex for those being moved onto it, comes in a monthly rather than fortnightly payment. Mounting evidence suggests claimants are finding it hard to budget over this time period, leading to debt and eviction notices, while the six week wait before the first payment is leaving some close to starvation.

The government, though, has maintained the idea that payments should be monthly. The reason for this, it argues, is because a monthly payment mirrors the world of work.

There’s only one problem. It’s not true.

The Resolution Foundation and Lloyds Banking Group examined bank transactions, and found that among new Universal Credit claimants who were jobless, 58 per cent were paid either fortnightly or weekly in their previous job. The vast majority of those – nearly half of all claimants studied – were used to being paid weekly.

It’s certainly the case that among all workers in all jobs, two-thirds are paid at the end of the month. But Universal Credit claimants aren’t all workers. They are the recently unemployed with little savings to fall back on (anyone with £16,000 in savings or more cannot claim in the first place), the low-paid workers previously receiving tax credits, and those unable to go into full-time work for caring or health reasons. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

According to the government’s own logic, then, a system that reflected the world of work would pay claimants weekly, rather than monthly. Yet another reason to pause the roll out.

Topics in this article :