NAWRA has submitted a response to the Social Security Advisory Committee consultation concerning the government’s intention that ‘surplus earnings’ from the previous six months should be taken into account when a person reclaims universal credit (UC).
The proposal suggests that any ‘surplus earnings’ – defined as earnings more than just £100 (less than £25 per week) over the ‘nil UC threshold’ – will be used to reduce future UC payments if the claimant returns to UC within six months. NAWRA does not believe that these earnings can be considered in any way ‘surplus’. They represent essential additional income to enable households to try and lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty.
We have reasserted the points made previously about the difficulties any delay in benefit payment causes, including the risk of claimants losing their housing, being forced into the hands of payday lenders and the risk of destitution. Additionally we believe that this change will act as a disincentive to work.
The DWP state that the policy is designed to prevent claimants and employers from ‘manipulating’ the system but we ask what evidence there is to support this assertion?
NAWRA does not believe that this policy could ever operate effectively. We assert that the proposal can only bring further poverty and hardship to those that already in desperate need.