Half a million Universal Credit Brits apply for advances to get through 5-week wait – and 1.5million sign up for help


With the coronavirus crisis tearing through Britain, there have also been 1.5 million people signing up to the scheme.

Half a million Brits have applied for the emergency advance

New figures released today show that in the four-week period to 12 April over 513,000 advances were paid to those urgently in need.

HOAR has backed the payouts to be quicker through its Make Universal Credit Work campaign ,which calls for the wait to be reduced to two weeks to help those being forced to rely on food banks.

Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey said: “Universal Credit is providing vital support for all those who need it during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The system has stood firm in the face of the unprecedented demand and our dedicated staff have gone above and beyond to help process more than 1.5 million new Universal Credit claims in just over a month.

“These are challenging times, but Universal Credit is providing a vital safety net to those affected by the pandemic and we’ve taken action by injecting over £6.5 billion to support people on the welfare system, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor.”

It comes as it was revealed more than 1.5 million new claims have been made to Universal Credit since March 1.

Now those who made their claims when the lockdown first kicked in will receive payments from tomorrow.

DWP Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield has also confirmed that at least 93 per cent of people are forecast to receive their payments in full and on time.

Laura Gardiner, Research Director at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Universal Credit is a lynchpin in the Government’s strategy for protecting household incomes.

“Today’s data shows an unprecedented increase in people beginning UC claims since coronavirus restrictions began.

“The number of advance payments is much lower than the numbers beginning UC claims – this is despite welcome steps from DWP to make claiming advances as straight-forward as possible.”

It comes after the five-year benefits freeze ended last month, meaning 2.5million households on Universal Credit and legacy benefits are now better off.

Legacy benefits are the welfare payments struggling households received before Universal Credit was rolled out.