MARTIN Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert has revealed thousands of people who claim Universal Credit could have been paid the wrong amount.
The consumer website said you should check if there’s been an error with your payment due to Universal Credit system issues.
You’re most likely to have been getting paid the wrong amount if you are working, and you’re paid weekly or irregularly, it said in its latest weekly newsletter.
It said as many as 20,000 people could be affected, and the payment errors are due to the way your employer submits your earnings to HMRC.
Universal Credit is assessed and paid on a monthly basis.
If you worked during your last assessment period, HMRC will pass over details of how much you’ve earned to the Department for Work and Pensions.
If your employer includes your National Insurance number in the information it sends over, it makes it easier for the DWP to track your claim down – which means your payments can be calculated that same day.
It means if your employer DOESN’T send over your NI information, there will most likely be a hold up.
This delay can last a few days, MoneySavingExpert said, which means your earnings information could end up in the wrong assessment period if your pay day falls very close to the end of this.
This means its calculations could be wrong – and you could end up with the wrong payment.
The DWP might also think your earned less than you actually did because of the reporting delay, and give you more money.
While higher Universal Credit payments could sound like a good thing, you could end up being slapped with a future bill by the DWP, telling you to pay back the cash.
MoneySavingExpert warned these people are most at risk to be affected:
- You get paid weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly, or irregularly
- You don’t have to give your employer a National Insurance number
- Your pay days fall very close to the end of your Universal Credit assessment period
- You’ve started a new job
The Sun approached the DWP for comment.
How to check if you’ve been affected
The first thing you should do is check your Universal Credit statement each month.
You’ll need to compare how much the DWP said your take home pay was against your bank statements.
If your bank statements show that what you got paid is different to what is logged in your Universal Credit statement, you could have been paid the wrong amount.
How to fix it
You’ll need to raise the issue with the DWP.
You can do this through your online account, or by calling the helpline on 0800 328 5644.
Make sure you have bank statements and payslips to hand to prove your earnings.
It should then look into your case and rectify any errors – including paying you more if you’ve been underpaid.
If you are unhappy with the DWP’s response, you have one month to challenge it.
You can ask it to review a decision if you think they’ve got it wrong.
For example, this might apply if you’ve been paid the wrong amount or told you don’t qualify.
To challenge a universal credit decision you have to ask for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’.
You can ask for a review by:
We outline five mistakes that could see your Universal Credit payment reduced or stopped.
While we explain how to apply for the benefit.