Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Universal Credit Monthly Design, “unpredictable and seemingly arbitrary variations in payments.”

with 85 comments

From the House of Commons Library.

Surprisingly informative.

Universal Credit: Does the monthly design work for claimants?

The story so far
After an uncertain start to the programme, the full version of UC was finally rolled out to every part of the UK in December 2018. The number of claimants is growing steadily and by the end of 2019 around 2.4 million households will be on UC. The final ‘managed migration’ stage is to start in late 2020 and finish by December 2023. People still getting existing ‘legacy benefits’ will be contacted to claim UC.

“The Universal Credit assessment period and payment structure is a fundamental part of the design… Minimising the difference between paid employment and being on benefit effectively removes a key barrier to moving back into work by helping claimants to budget on a monthly basis.” – Freedom of Information response DWP ref: FoI 1288, DWP, 5 June 2017.

“People in low-paid work are not paid monthly. Yet the system is built around monthly earnings. Likewise, no one in the real world has their wages paid to a partner. Yet the system pays a whole month’s universal credit into a single bank account belonging to one member of the household.” – Frank Field, FT article, 19 October 2018.

“…the ostensibly simple system of monthly assessment periods for all claimants – regardless of their working arrangements and pay cycles – can, in reality, lead to unpredictable and seemingly arbitrary variations in payments which make budgeting extremely difficult.” – Rough Justice, CPAG, August 2018.

UC payment arrangements are not the same across the whole of the UK. Claimants in Scotland can choose to receive their UC payments twice a month and for their landlord to receive the housing element directly. The Scottish Government also plans to split payments of UC to couples, “to increase equality within the welfare system”. In Northern Ireland, twice-monthly payments and direct payments to landlords are the default, and evidence suggests very few claimants have opted out.

In England and Wales, ‘Alternative Payment Arrangements’ (APAs) are possible, but only where claimants can’t manage single monthly UC payments and are at risk of ‘financial harm’. The emphasis is instead on help with monthly budgeting.

In January 2019 the DWP announced new measures to improve access to APAs. These include making it easier for private landlords to request direct payment of rents, and trialling new ways to promote more frequent payments. The DWP also said it was looking at what more might be done to ensure that, for couples with children, household payments go directly to the main carer.

But the DWP is facing calls to go further. CPAG has recommended that APAs should be available on request, arguing that the current criteria are too difficult to meet. Citizens Advice has argued that, in the long term, the Government should make UC payment cycles more flexible so that claimants can choose the schedule that best suits their needs.

Further reading

You wonder if these villains have read the above:


Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2020 at 1:32 pm

85 Responses

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  1. All the failed DWP & Disability Ministers are now in the Tory Cabinet.

    Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

    January 19, 2020 at 2:30 pm

  2. A DWP month is 28 days which makes it 236 week year = 49 & a half week year.

    Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

    January 19, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    • Everything has to fit into the DWP’s 28 day month which no one else uses. Designed that way for DWP Fraud. The DWP fraud is done by the DWP for UC fraud. So everyone is a scapegoat for the DWP’s fraud.

      Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

      January 19, 2020 at 2:55 pm

  3. All in the difficulties in Universal Credit were designed into it from the very start. It was never meant to support people on benefits. But to force them to take low-paid employment instead. It was always meant to be a bed of nails for the unemployed. Not a soft option as Iain Duncan Smith believed the original legacy system to have been.

    Jeff Smith

    January 19, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    • But to force them to take low-paid employment instead.

      Not to mention work references from the past two years,many in the Jobcentre have much greater barriers then this.A Jobcentre psychologist had in work support required added to my commitment,that was removed without explaination when as it was put thing’s change and now theres supposedly nothing wrong,it lead to me losing employment in the past through no fault.

      Iain Duncan Smith.He has done more to damage the country then any politician in recent times.


      The main fear is price rises’ in the short term,beyond that?


      January 19, 2020 at 6:00 pm

  4. Good to see Therese Coffey has so much time to watch television.

    Daniel Renton

    January 19, 2020 at 3:06 pm

  5. Considering that UK Benefits are paid at an inadequately low level to begin with it is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect people to effectively budget such a small amount over a monthly period, even more so when deductions are being made for DWP advance payments and/or for alleged overpayment of Working Tax Credits. Unemployment Benefit was better when it was paid weekly many years ago.


    January 19, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    • @trev: And they still don’t give any concern to long-term unemployed and how they are going to pay for fares etc. if they take up a job. Or last to the end of the month, and still be able to feed themselves.
      People with £20 in their pocket, no savings or credit card, no other family help, expected to sign-off JSA, Travel to a new job, and keep themselves for a month on this ?

      Alan Turner

      January 19, 2020 at 3:38 pm

      • That’s a good point Alan, there’s many a time when I am down to my last couple of quid or even a few pence, I have no transport, no savings, no access to any form of credit, totally reliant upon JSA and Lady Luck. JSA needs to be increased to at least £90 per week and paid weekly, not fortnightly and certainly not monthly. Only a clueless millionaire with no experience of poverty could dream up such a warped idea of monthly Benefits payments. The very same clueless millionaire who then receives a Knighthood!


        January 19, 2020 at 3:52 pm

  6. Already too low benefits frozen for four years; council tax contributions demanded from those benefits not designed to pay it; bedroom tax levied against people under-occupying homes they have lived in for decades with nowhere affordable and smaller to move into; cuts, caps and reductions across the board until families and individuals fall into food poverty in 21st century Britain in their hundreds of thousands if not millions.

    What would the Tories call all this?

    My bet would be: A good start!

    Wavy Davy

    January 19, 2020 at 4:21 pm

  7. sign on once a year and get the hole lot in one go i could live with that 😉 the dwp would save a fortune in staff pmsl


    January 19, 2020 at 4:24 pm

  8. It is wrong to try and make people work when they don’t want to.

    Dave Blunt

    January 19, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    • Why don’t you ‘step back’ from your claim then, Dave? You will still get paid in full. The DWP will even send your payments to America.

      Isabel Palencia

      January 19, 2020 at 11:53 pm

  9. I would advise everyone to buy bitcoin and/or gold before stagflation, following Brexit, devalues the value of the pound sterling.


    January 19, 2020 at 5:39 pm

  10. @trev, Claimants who are this broke, are counting down the days to their payment, and the change in their pocket. They are totally concerned with simple survival. Any so-called ‘Jobsearch’ they are doing, in this situation, is just a token search to meet the basic conditions of their benefit. When people are down to this level, they don’t care about jobs. They care about having food for the day, and keeping the lights on at home. So these brutal benefit cuts don’t improve anyone’s jobsearch, they reduce it.

    Alan Turner

    January 19, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    • I work 25 hours a week and don’t claim UC. I have £20 to last me until meet Monday.by the time I’ve paid rent inclusive of bills payg phone and tv licence not included in rent I have about £8 a week more than I’d get unemployed!! I need new glasses but can’t afford them. Work isn’t paying me!


      January 20, 2020 at 1:37 pm

      • @katrehman – This is just what I mean, for 25 hours a week of work you should be significantly better off.
        But the reality is that you are not. But the DWP take the concept of being ‘better off’ to mean even a few pounds more than being on benefits. But this is not enough to make a practical difference. It is deceptive to pretend otherwise.

        Alan Turner

        January 20, 2020 at 2:00 pm

      • Alan, the threshold for ‘significantly better off’ now seems to be being able to afford the rent. Given that Housing Benefit is now so low in proportion to rents, it has got to the stage where people like Kat are expected to be grateful simply for having a roof over their heads, because in some areas of the country it is now almost impossible to rent privately on Housing Benefit. ‘Work isn’t paying’ is only half the story- the reason it isn’t paying is because people are being milked dry by landlords and out of control rents.


        January 21, 2020 at 3:14 am

      • People can pay up to £200 a week in rent for a modest room in a London flat.

        Andrew Coates

        January 21, 2020 at 9:58 am

      • There should be a minimum income in this country that provide’s for this situation and eradicates it once and for all removing Universal Credit taper/RtI and other credit’s,a system thats totally confusing not easily understood equally badly designed,it looks terrible,reflects badly on the employment situation in the UK that state support is required at all to top up incomes and benefit shortfalls creating negative headlines.

        The Tv licence should be abolished and the BBC made to pay its own way and if falls by the way side so be it,its mired in controversy with these headlines recently also doing away with it’s shady collecton arm.While no one is guranteed their income the BBC sails on.



        January 22, 2020 at 9:30 am

  11. Equality and Human Rights Commission are a bogus firm run by the Tory Party. All off the members are Tory. They are also Violating Disability Rights & are Anti Semitic. Since the Tories need to defend being anti semitic & anti disability.

    Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

    January 19, 2020 at 5:43 pm

  12. Superted says stepping back from the Jobcentre was the only option for “a more peaceful life”. 😀

    Dole News

    January 19, 2020 at 11:50 pm

  13. “The dead do not suffer the living to pass”

    — Aragon, Lord of the Rings

    Thought for the Day

    January 20, 2020 at 10:10 am

    • Trev-Ra was a bit of a lad back in the day. Bit spicy that bit about Hammu the Stonemason’s wife, and then being caught on the job as it were.


      January 20, 2020 at 2:04 pm

  14. I don’t know what to think of this:

    Radical Universal Credit alternative could give every person in Hull £100 a week

    Hull could become the first UK city to trial a radical new welfare scheme hailed as an alternative to Universal Credit.

    Councillors have given their backing for the city to become the first in the UK to trial universal basic income (UBI).

    It would mean that every adult, regardless of income or background, would receive free cash – a sum potentially between £50 and £100 a week – with no-strings-attached.

    People who receive disability benefits would be given an equivalent sum in UBI, while pensioners would receive higher payments and children lower ones.

    Jack Haines, a Liberal Democrat councillor, says it could “transform the city” and fix the UK’s “broken welfare system”.


    Andrew Coates

    January 20, 2020 at 10:57 am

    • What is the point to give people who pay tax a sub? Why take money off them and then give some/all/more of it back? And as far as people who don’t work enough to support themselves without state assistance what about rent and such like? A basic payment of £100 per week is more than Universal Credit/Jobseeker’s Allowance as far as the “living expenses” element is concerned but how does this figure in to financial support relating to accommodation and such like?

      J. Dodger

      January 20, 2020 at 11:35 am

      • There would still be a need for Housing Benefit, and full Council Tax exemption for the unwaged. But where has this trial scheme come from? Is this Hull Council’s idea or has it come from the Government? £100 p/w would be ok (on top of HB) for single people but families would need more. How’s it going to be funded and administered? They would save money by ending JSA/UC and shutting down the Jobcentres , or maybe shutting the DWP, but some other department would be needed, unless it would all be handled by HMRC, Pensions too.


        January 20, 2020 at 11:51 am

    • 👿 The 👿 Devil 👿 is in the detail 👿


      January 20, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    • They will still have to get the approval of the government to run this. If Johnson says no, that’s it.

      Tom Sutton

      January 20, 2020 at 1:55 pm

      • @tom sutton – Good point Tom. I wouldn’t start cheering too soon. The Tories have been generally hostile to Universal Basic Income. It goes against the grain for them to start paying people £100 a week, without having to work. And with nothing they can do to make them work. For a right-wing Tory, it’s enough to make you choke on your Gin & Tonic.

        Gordon C.

        January 20, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      • Elsewhere in the world there is Rightwing support for Basic Income as they see it as a cheaper alternative to a Welfare State, and which could therefore lead to the State negating all other responsibility, which is one of the potential dangers of Basic Income. That’s why any form of Basic Income must be supplementary to other State Benefits, not in place of them.


        January 20, 2020 at 4:08 pm

      • @ Tom Sutton-

        Thought about answering my question yet Tom?


        January 21, 2020 at 2:42 am

    • If Hull Council is going to give every adult within their Council Tax boundary a £5,200 payment every year and pay for it from money collected through Council Tax, presumably, f*ck knows how much Council Tax bills will shoot up to if they actually do this. Surely any money going spare ought to go to help the poorest and most needy in that area rather than spread the jam over everybody irrespective of how big their income is? Surely Hull would be better off concentrating help on the most strapped and building as much social housing as possible rather than give comfortably off people a £100.00 per week which they don’t need to make ends meet? This doesn’t make much sense to me. The bureaucracy needed to administer and pay out the money alone would cost a bleeding fortune and then some. Let’s get the rough sleepers off the streets, build some council houses, abolish the Bedroom Tax, increase Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance enough to meet market rents and stop charging benefit claimants Council Tax before we start bunging £100.00 per week to all and sundry.


      January 20, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    • If it gets people living off the street its a very good idea,theres none of this conditionality/agency expectation seeing people as object’s of worth with endless jobcentre signing,crime could possibly reduce also.


      January 20, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    • I support the idea of UBI in principle but baulk whenever I hear about these trials and the amounts proposed. Nobody who has a mortgage or rent to pay can live off 100 quid a week so why bother? What’s the point?


      January 21, 2020 at 2:52 am

  15. Eat all the Cod you can. Before it’s too late.

    Captain Birdseye

    January 20, 2020 at 4:38 pm

  16. Low-paid/part-time workers are losing out on bonuses because of strict Universal Credit rules, meaning that in effect any bonuses paid go to the Government and not the employees:




    January 20, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    • A further colapse appears to be on the horizon too.This is all very damaging to confidence.I notice theres much more people in the Jobcentre lately.

      ‘Soaring food prices and job losses are the reality of Boris Johnson’s Brexit’

      Dire warnings from British industries after Chancellor Sajid Javid admitted businesses will be hit, exposes why the Prime Minister focuses on the trivial



      January 20, 2020 at 9:00 pm

      • In the event of mass redundancies and business failure there will be fewer jobs available and more people seeking jobs, so the overall situation might well necessitate a slackening of Benefit conditionality, or possibly the end of Universal Credit in its current form, as the Benefits system will need to be more easily accessible and not clogged-up with a massive back-log of pending claims. It could even lead to the introduction of Basic Income as an inevitability. Otherwise the system will be stretched to breaking point as will the foodbanks.


        January 20, 2020 at 9:18 pm

      • Your talking about the Cloward-Pivem strategy 😉 You read about it on here like we don’t know 😉 and dismissed it out of hand with a “what the fuck has that got to do with the UK?”

        Cloward & Piven

        January 20, 2020 at 10:03 pm

  17. The mass automation of the future is going to remove most low-skill jobs anyway. So many people simply won’t be able to find work in factories, warehouses etc It will all be automated, done by robots.

    Dan Dare

    January 20, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    • Not only that but because of developments in artificial intelligence loads of clerical and middle management posts will disappear too!


      January 21, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    • When driverless vehicles actually become a reality shed loads of driving jobs will go up in flames, especially in haulage as juggernaut lorries are loaded by robots, driven more safely on good roads by computers, and unloaded at the other end by androids. And just like Arnold Schwarzenegger taking a “Johnny Cab” in the film “Total Recall” people will be taxied from place to place by fleets of Uber owned driverless electric taxis. It’s not just manual workers that are going to be f*cked over by AI and automation it’s everyone. All out lives are going to be touched by the march of the machines.


      January 21, 2020 at 12:26 pm

  18. Andrew Coates

    January 21, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    • I wish the media would stop being so spineless about Universal Credit. There is nothing good about it.
      A cruel system designed to drag people off benefits, and into precarious low-paid work.

      Jeff Smith

      January 21, 2020 at 12:51 pm

  19. @trev – I disagree. The attempt by vegans and some vegetarians, to promote their warped view of ‘right-eating’, and to guilt-trip the meat-eating majority population, has led them to ignore the realities of a natural diet. Natural foods are those that grow and live in nature. As opposed to manufactured foodstuffs made in a factory. Indeed this ongoing campaign of virtue-signalling by vegans / vegetarians is very similar to those used by various cults.

    Giles Harrington

    January 21, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    • “ignore the realities…”

      Reality is subjective to a degree. But yes there are those who still need meat as it is (and has been) a necessary part of evolution, so for some it is still necessary for a while longer:

      Meat and Drink as Factors in Evolution



      January 21, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    • Eating farmed meat isn’t natural. Although primates, e.g., chimpanzees, sometimes hunt and eat other wild animals no other primates farm mammals to kill and butcher for food. Farming meat is inefficient, extremely polluting, lays waste to natural habitats and eating too much meat is highly carcinogenic. I don’t eat meat and I don’t feel particularly sorry for contemporaries who do and end up expiring from cancer of the colon or other interesting malignancies any more than I feel sorry for weak-willed people with other unhealthy vices like smoking. While most of my omnivorous peers lie in the cold clay I will probably still be alive, at a ripe old age, and still doing half-marathons and occasional full marathons; slim, active, hale, hearty and sexually potent and active without any need of pharmaceuticals.


      January 21, 2020 at 5:07 pm

      • @Joe – No, you’ll just die miserable and Vitamin B12 deficient. Most of the vegetarians you see are thin and half-starved. They need a good meal of meat. But they would rather adopt this trendy, virtue-signalling, holier-than-thou attitude. Much as the same as the temperance people with alcohol.

        Beefsteak Bill

        January 21, 2020 at 5:53 pm

      • @joe, Eating farmed meat is natural if you are a farmer. On our farm we’ve always eaten meat.

        John Lassiter

        January 21, 2020 at 6:13 pm

      • Hank’s Vegan Pub opens in Ipswich

        Wings, steaks, loaded nachos, craft ales and cocktails on the menu at Suffolk’s first fully vegan pub.

        When they opened Hank’s Deli on Lloyds Avenue in Ipswich last summer, owners of the vegan shop and eatery, Geoff Bligh and Phil Rivers, had no idea it would become one of the town’s runaway successes, with queues down the street.

        This week, now with a staff of 20, the couple have flung open the doors to their very own inn, Hank’s Vegan Pub, found within the former Grinning Rat premises on St Helen’s Street in the town.


        Andrew Coates

        January 22, 2020 at 2:17 pm

  20. There are no public toilets in Job centres let alone disabled public toilets in Job centres. What are we going to do if we need to go to the toilet straight away? Piss all over the job centre carpet & then have a big shit on the job centres desks. Do you think the job centre will then get G4S to sort it out because no one knows who’s job it is to get the cleaner in. All of a sudden the police force turn up before asked to arrest disabled people for criminal damage to the job centres carpet. It seems so political having shit in the job centre.

    Yet another Tory Human Rights Violation.

    Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

    January 21, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    • You mean the Jobby centre 😷


      January 21, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    • @Stepping : Good point, there should be toilets in Jobcentres. Suprising that there is not more of a problem with this.

      Garry T.

      January 21, 2020 at 5:59 pm

      • there are toilets at my jcp but there under lock and key but they will only let you use it if you got small kids as would just piss all over the floor if refused lol


        January 21, 2020 at 6:04 pm

      • No mention of Disabled Toilets then. How about if we bring our own carrier bags to piss & shit in at the Job Centre will that be ok !!

        Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

        January 21, 2020 at 6:08 pm

      • not sure if it equipped for disabled use as it is on the 2nd floor and most of the time the lift is broken imo on purpose as the assessment office for pip/esa is also on the 2nd floor so you walk up them stairs n ur fooked.


        January 21, 2020 at 6:18 pm

      • Under Disability Hate Crime legislation Jobcentres are now being forced to installed disabled toilets. At my local jobcentre the punters usually have a piss and a dump on the way in. Jobcentres still don’t have water dispensers which a flagrant breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act. It is a Human Rights Violation for jobcentres not to have toilets open to the public. They should be forced to do so under Human Rights Legislation.

        Dirty Protest

        January 21, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    • Simple as that Tories Human Rights Violations – All Job Centres are shutting down under the Health Safety Laws & Disability Human Rights Laws. The power to shut them all down is there because the Job Centre aka DWP aka Tories are criminals breaking the law. Illegal Job Centres refusing basics Human Rights of using a Toilet in a public building. Another fact it is not a political issue Tories. You can only use the Job Centre Toilet if you are a Tory voter. Is there an appeal system for using the toilet Tories? No another Human Rights Violation.

      Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

      January 21, 2020 at 7:22 pm

  21. @Joe – Nonsense, there is no way to prove that vegetarians or vegans live any longer due to not eating meat. Wake up and get out of your snowflake bubble of self-importance. Why should anyone care how long you live ?

    Giles Harrington

    January 22, 2020 at 2:16 pm

  22. A woman has vowed never to go into Subway again after she spotted a worker who appeared to have his hand down his trousers.
    The 30-year-old, who asked not to be named, was in the Union Street branch of the sandwich chain in Accrington, Lancashire when something caught her eye.
    “I just looked around and saw it and I watched for a minute then decided to take a photograph and posted it on Snapchat and Facebook ,” she told The Lancashire Telegraph.
    “It is absolutely disgusting and I won’t be going into that Subway again. I said to my partner, ‘have you seen that? You have just eaten and he is doing that.’

    “It is just wrong on so many levels.” – Daily Mirror

    Fred Hartnell

    January 22, 2020 at 2:24 pm

  23. Off topic but here’s the latest from my workplace a school. We have draconian sickness monitoring where life is very unpleasant of you call in sick even with a doctors note and once back you get meetings telling you you can’t have more time off for x amount of months. I’m a Union officer and have been to these with ppl. So far we had a cleaner signed off with a broken toe laughed at and told come in you’ll b fine everyone works with a broken toe. She resisted and stayed off. We have myself with suspected nerve problems in neck and shoulder. My GP who never puts you off was going to put me off on the spot. Of course I’m still working. Now we have someone with what’s clearly conjunctivitis which is contagious working after being told go to the chemist and get eye drops!! Such is progress….


    January 22, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    • @katrehman. And then they wonder why people are not keen to take on these jobs. Very poor way to treat people.

      Roger D.

      January 22, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    • @ Kat

      This is exactly the way the Tories want it. Sounds like you need to go on Strike! People can always take it to a Tribunal if they think they have been treated unfairly.


      January 22, 2020 at 3:07 pm

      • Trev there are strict laws about striking these days!! Though I have gone out on strike before when they were called


        January 22, 2020 at 6:24 pm

      • I heard something about that a while ago, that Boris wanted to make it illegal to Strike but I didn’t know if they had actually got that far. It’s outrageous, we are on the path to Dictatorship. After Brexit things will get worse, I fully expect that he will implement Martial Law and suspended Parliament, then that’s it, all hail Emperor Boris!


        January 22, 2020 at 6:31 pm

  24. Anyone else heard Work Coaches telling flat broke, long-term unemployed, to ask their employer if they can have the first month’s wages straightaway ? Not going to help the interview really is it ? ‘ I’d like the job, and by the way I’ll need you to pay me the first month’s wages up front.’ I suppose you put that in when they ask if you have got any questions !

    Garry T.

    January 22, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    • @garry This is Work Coach in Wonderland stuff again. No employer is going to be very impressed with an applicant who says something like this. Plus how many companies do you know who would do it ? You might as well say when asked why you want the job ‘I want the money’. Next candidate please…

      John Kendall

      January 22, 2020 at 3:32 pm

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