Britons turn to Universal Credit & PIP as ‘income gaps’ exposed – could you benefit?

Therese Coffey addresses plans for Universal Credit in Parliament

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Universal Credit, PIP, and other payments made available by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can help Britons with their income. Universal Credit is available to those on a low income or out of work, while PIP can help individuals living with a health condition or disability. Research undertaken by Barnett Waddingham has shown the effects of the pandemic over the last 18 months, with a large increase in people seeking financial support throughout the pandemic.

While some have looked closer to home with aid from friends and family, others have turned to the Government for a helping hand.

The study showed a quarter of employees have looked into their eligibility for state benefits, with a further fifth planning on doing so.

The figure, however, rises significantly for those who are living with a disability, at 42 percent, compared to 24 percent of those without disabilities.

This has shown how payments such as Universal Credit and PIP can prove an important lifeline, particularly in a time of crisis. 

Universal Credit has been claimed by millions, and extra support has been provided through a temporary uplift worth £20 per week.

To be eligible, one must be on a low income or out of work, living in the UK, and 18 or over in the vast majority of cases.

They must be under state pension age, and have £16,000 or less in savings.

It is clear the payment has been useful due to the rise in unemployment as a result of the pandemic.

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And with furlough scheduled to end in September, fears of redundancies materialising could mean many more are reliant on this kind of payment.

David Collington, Principal at Barnett Waddingham, told “The pandemic has compromised job security for a swathe of UK employees who have faced furlough, salary cuts, or job loss in the past year – and even if it’s not affected them directly, it’s highly likely that people will have seen a change in the working status of their family in some way or another.

“After an unusual and difficult year, people have turned to the state for support, advice, and a means to plug a potential gap in income. 

“But as we edge out of lockdown and normality returns, the baton will be passed back to employers, who will need to prioritise supporting the financial and mental wellbeing of their employees as they get back on their feet.”

PIP is a payment which offers vital support to those living with a health condition or disability.

With the study showing how these individuals are becoming increasingly reliant on state benefits, PIP is likely to be a major source of assistance.

The amount someone gets from PIP is dependent on how their condition affects them, rather than the condition itself.

Britons can receive the sum whether they are in work or not, but must be 16 or over and usually below state pension age to claim.

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Their condition or disability must have caused challenges for them for at least three months, and they must expect these difficulties to continue for at least nine months.

However, further action may be needed from employers to protect their employees with a disability going forward.

Offering further insight, Mr Collington concluded: “With our research showing that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on employees with a disability, it’s shone a light on how crucial it is for employers to take time to understand their workforces, realise the role they play in building financial security, and ensure that individual needs are met.

“The fact that more and more employees are turning to Government for help might be an indication of the areas in which organisations need to provide more support.”

What is clear, though, is that the pandemic has clearly polarised the finances of Britons – with some struggling while others have amassed unexpected savings.

As a result, Britons have been encouraged to take stock of their finances, ask for support if necessary, and make a plan for the future by putting funds aside for emergencies. 

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