Universal Credit is ‘flawed’ and ‘leaving claimants at risk of poverty’

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Universal Credit is a living support payment, designed by the government to smooth the process of claiming benefits in the UK. It has replaced six older, ‘legacy’ benefits which Britons may be more familiar with: Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, and Working Tax Credit. Universal Credit claimants can expect to be paid monthly, based on their relationship status, age, and any other relevant personal circumstances.

However, concern has been expressed about how the system is run and its effect on those making a claim.

Human Rights Watch has said the automated benefits system in the UK “threatens” the rights of those who may already be close to poverty.

The organisation has said the algorithm – the way in which the benefit is calculated – is poorly designed, meaning many claimants have been forced into challenging financial circumstances.

The 68-page report outlined the experiences of those claiming Universal Credit, as well as other experts who have experience with the benefits system.

And it said the system needs reevaluation to ensure personal and financial rights are protected.

Amos Toh, senior artificial intelligence and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, commented on the findings.

He said: “The government has put a flawed algorithm in charge of deciding how much money to give people to pay rent and feed their families.

“The government’s bid to automate the benefits system – no matter the human cost – is pushing people to the brink of poverty.

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“Benefits are designed to help people, not kick them when they’re down.”

Human Rights Watch has called for a more human-centric approach when it comes to the benefits system in the UK.

This, they say, will ensure claimants’ rights are protected throughout the process.

Universal Credit has become a lifeline for many people, and the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis have meant millions more have made a claim in the last few months.

The amount of Universal Credit a person or couple ultimately receives is based on a number of factors.

The DWP has outlined a standard allowance which is available to all Universal Credit claimants.

Single people under 25 are entitled to £342.72, with single people over the age of 25 given £409.89.

Those who are in a couple where both are under the age of 25 will receive £488.59.

And people who are in a couple where either member is 25 or over are allocated £594.04 to share.

Extra amounts are available to those with children, people with a disability or health condition, or those who may need additional support with rent.

Universal Credit can be applied for online, through the government’s designated portal, which is intended to help Britons manage their claim.

A DWP spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “Universal Credit was designed to mirror the world of work, where the majority of employees receive wages monthly, and to help people get back into employment as soon as possible. 

“The monthly assessment and adjustment period reflects this, and ensures that if a claimant’s income falls, they won’t have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit. 

“Urgent advances are available for those who need them, and we have taken steps to make debt repayments easier.”

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