Thousands of workers hit by Universal Credit payment errors – what to do if you’re affected

Confused frustrated young man reading letter in cafe, debt notification, bad financial report, money problem, money problem, upset student receiving bad news, unsuccessful exam or test results

THOUSANDS of workers on Universal Credit were hit with payment issues last year, new figures reveal.

There were over 126,000 disputes about errors made through the real-time information (RTI) system in 2022, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said.

Thousands of workers on Universal Credit were hit with payment errors in 2022

The online system delivers earnings data between tax and benefit offices and adjusts workers’ Universal Credit payments.

But errors in the system can lead to payments being delayed or benefit allowances being docked incorrectly, leaving claimants out of pocket.

Errors can stem from any number of reasons including your employer not filing the correct information with HMRC in time or at all, or a worker’s salary being changed so that it is paid monthly instead of weekly.

HOAR spoke to one father-of-four who was left with no cash over the Christmas period after his employer forgot to send the relevant information to HMRC.

You can self-report any information your employer is supposed to send to HMRC, but it can cause added stress and delays which can also impact Universal Credit payments.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Our welfare system helps millions of people every year and it is vital that it can be accessed by all who need it.

“Customers have a direct line of contact through our dedicated Work Coaches who are on hand to provide tailored, one-to-one support in person at the jobcentre.

“In addition, we fund support for Universal Credit applications through the Help to Claim service provided by Citizens Advice.

“The majority of customers are satisfied with the service they receive and in the very small proportion of cases where errors do occur, we are committed to fixing them as quickly as possible.”

What can I do if I’ve been hit with a RTI error?

If you were one of the thousands of workers hit by a RTI error in 2022, you can take action.

Anna Stevenson, benefits expert at anti-poverty charity Turn2Us, previously told HOAR you should first check if you’ve been hit with one of the errors using HMRC’s website or app.

If you’ve found the wrong amount was reported to HMRC, you will need to ask your employer to correct it.

You should also contact the DWP and ask to go ahead with a “RTI dispute”, she added.

The DWP will then look again at the amount of earnings that have been reported to them and should be able to correct it.

Meanwhile, you can also flag a RTI error on your Universal Credit journal.

In any case, the DWP has 14 days to look into your case and make a formal decision on your earnings for that period.

If you’re unhappy with what the DWP decides you can seek a “mandatory reconsideration” again by writing on your journal.

If you still feel the issue hasn’t been rectified, you can escalate it to a First Tier Tribunal.

What help can I get if my payment is reduced by a RTI error?

Even if you can get a RTI error resolved, it may leave you without money if your Universal Credit payment is delayed.

But there are some ways you might be able to cover costs while you’re waiting for your money.

You can get an advance loan from the Government to cover the cost of food, gas, electricity and other essentials.

There is a catch though – as the money is a loan, you have to pay it back.

You also might be able to get help through the Household Support Fund.

The fund is worth £842million and has been shared between local councils in England.

It is designed to help people struggling with the cost of living, normally those on a low income or benefits such as Universal Credit.

But what you are entitled to varies depending on where you live as each local authority has been given a unique share of the fund and chooses its own eligibility criteria.

For example, thousands of households in Torbay can get up to £500 in free cash.

Meanwhile, thousands more in Cambridgeshire can get £110 paid direct into their bank accounts or in the form of vouchers.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]