HOUSEHOLDS who feel there is something wrong with their Universal Credit payments are entitled to make a complaint to get it corrected.
In the first two weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, almost a million people applied to the benefits system, which rolls six payments into one.
How much help you're entitled to is adjusted based factors such as your income, how many children you have, how old they are and whether or not you live with your partner.
New claimants are also forced to wait five weeks before getting their first welfare payment, while many parents are left unable to work due to the crippling cost of upfront childcare fees.
It's for these reasons that The Sun has launched the Make Universal Credit Work campaign.
For some, the wait for the first payment is over -but you may be questioning the amount of money that's been transferred into your account.
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you're experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don't cover costs, here are your options:
- Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.
- Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
- Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your existing ones aren't enough to cover your rent.
- Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
You should make a complaint as soon as you notice that something isn't right with your payment.
Here's how you make a complaint about Universal Credit and make sure the the problem sorted.
What sort of problems can I complain about?
Claimants have the right to question any mistakes they think have been made with their welfare payment.
You can also complain if there have been unreasonable delays in getting your Universal Credit account set up, such as having to wait longer than five weeks for your first payment.
If any changes have been made to your case and you've not been told about them, then you have grounds to complain.
How do I submit a complaint?
You will need to make a formal complain about Universal Credit to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the organisation behind the welfare system.
There is no need to submit your complain to the Jobcentre unless it is something specifically to do with your local branch.
This is what you'll need when making a complaint:
- National insurance number – unless you're an employer
- Full name, address and contact numbers
- Which benefit your complaint is about
- What happened, when and how it affected you
- And what you want them to do about it
You can call the DWP's complaints line for free on 08003285644 if you have a Universal Credit account or 08003289344 if you don't.
Phone lines are open between 8am and 6pm.
Alternatively, you can make a complaint using the online form.
Letters should be sent to DWP Complaints, Post Handling Site B, Wolverhampton, WV99 2GY.
Can I get compensation if there is a mistake?
Once your complaint is submitted, the DWP will investigate it to see if a mistakes has indeed been made.
If an error has been found in your case, the government body will contact you to let you know and outline how it plans to put things right.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes five weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the Government to:
- Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7million from being pushed into debt.
- Keep more of what you earn:The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4million families.
- Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
In extreme cases, you may be offered compensation.
This will only happen if the mistake has caused you financial hardship, plunged you further into debt or if you've been treated unfairly.
What if I don't agree with the outcome?
If you don't agree with the outcome of the investigation you can ask for your complaint to be referred.
But you will only be able to do this once you've got the results of your complaint.
Complaints Resolution Manager
Firstly, you'll need to ask to be passed on to a complaints resolution manger.
A member of the team will then be in touch within 15 working days to tell you the outcome or when to expect an answer if they need more time.
If you're still not happy with the outcome, you can ask for it to be reviewed by a senior manager.
Independent Case Examiner
If you've been through the complaints resolution manager and still aren't satisfied, you can ask for an independent case examiner to look at your file.
It's a free, impartial service and you'll need to contact it within six months of getting a final response and send it a copy.
If it agrees to take on your complaint, it'll look at what happened and the response you were given.
It will ask the DWP to correct any mistakes it has made.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
If you've exhausted all other complaints services and still don't feel your case has been justly dealt with, then you can ask your MP to send your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
It is an independent body which deals with complaints left unresolved by the NHS or the Government.
It's a free service but its decision will be final. You can find out who you local MP is by searching your area here.
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