View previous topic | View next topic

Universal Credit scare story

Page 1 of 1

GuyBarry
1262210.  Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:18 am Reply with quote

Very annoyed by an item on this morning's Today programme on Radio 4, relating to a forthcoming item on Money Box, suggesting that a substantial number of Universal Credit claimants with weekly paid jobs will lose their entitlement in December. It's on all the hourly news bulletins as well.

This is simply false. I claim Universal Credit on the basis of a low income and I know the rules pretty thoroughly. Almost every claim the BBC made was either false or highly misleading.

They cited the fact that Universal Credit is calculated on an individual's calendar monthly income. For weekly paid staff, roughly every third month will have five paydays, so UC entitlement will be lower than in other months. That much is true.

The following statements were not true:
(1) "This is more likely to happen in December than in other months." It isn't. It depends on the date when a claimant's assessment period starts, which is effectively random, being linked to the start date of the claim. For instance, my own assessment period runs from the 14th of the month to the 13th, and the one I'm currently in (14 Nov-13 Dec) is the one that determines my December payment. It has five Tuesdays and five Wednesdays, but only four Thursdays and four Fridays. I'm not actually paid weekly, but in my experience most weekly paid staff are paid on a Thursday or a Friday. So if I were weekly paid I'd probably have four paydays in this period, not five. This will be the case for roughly two-thirds of claimants.

(2) "Many claimants' entitlement will fall to zero." It won't for the vast majority. They take off 63% of everything you earn, so your total monthly UC entitlement would have to be less than 63% of one week's income for this to happen. For instance, if you earned £200 a week, you'd have to have an entitlement of less than £126 per month. If I earned £200 a week my entitlement (based on my personal circumstances and housing costs) would be about £220 a month in four-week months and £94 in five-week months. That's quite a drop but it's not zero.

(3) "If your entitlement falls to zero, you will need to reclaim." This is simply false. My entitlement fell to zero one month because of a fluke where I had two monthly paydays in the same month. (I didn't lose out, because there was no payday in the previous month, so no deduction was made.) When it got to the following month, they simply paid the regular monthly figure and I didn't have to take any special action.

There are enough genuine problems with UC at the moment without the BBC scaremongering and inventing problems that don't exist, or at least are highly exaggerated.

EDIT: Just heard a trail for Money Box, which starts at 12 noon. "Weekly paid Universal Credit claimants could face a bleak Christmas. They could lose some or all of their payments in December because there are five Fridays."

The number of Fridays in December is irrelevant. As I said above, it's the number of Fridays (or whatever your payday is) in your assessment period, which ends a week before your benefit date.

Some people will get hit this way, for sure. If your assessment period is 17 Nov-16 Dec, for instance, then it will contain five Fridays. But that happens once every three months - it's not some special thing that's just happening this month, and it won't happen to everyone at once.

I shall listen to the programme and then send then an email. I think it's irresponsible to frighten people in this way.

 
RLDavies
1262287.  Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:11 am Reply with quote

Ofcom is watching the BBC very closely right now when it comes to complaints regarding "editorial standards" (i.e. political bias and similar breaches of the broadcasting code). If you intend to complain, now's the best time.

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0026/106856/bbc-complaints-handling-letter.pdf

 
GuyBarry
1262294.  Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:45 am Reply with quote

Thanks for that. I listened to the programme and the item was based on a genuine concern - that UC claimants on a regular weekly income can see their payments change from month to month depending on the number of weekly paydays, making budgeting difficult in some cases. (This didn't happen under tax credits, which were worked out on an annual basis, smoothing out such irregularities across the year.) The interviewee was correct to point this out.

But the presenter, Paul Lewis, made the claim more than once that the problem would be particularly acute because there are five Fridays in December, and this is simply wrong. Most people receiving a payment in December will have four weekly paydays in their assessment period.

The trouble with stuff like this is that is gets repeated over and over again on news bulletins. No doubt there are campaigners hearing these reports who will use them as further ammunition to attack the government's Universal Credit policy, while completely misunderstanding the issues involved.

 
GuyBarry
1263778.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:17 am Reply with quote

I'm pleased to say that this week's programme included an apology and a detailed correction, after some criticism in Parliament.

 
barbados
1263780.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:24 am Reply with quote

Itís not easy when people are only ever interested in the shock and awe type of story.

Another one this week has been the story about how we are all going to become cruel to animals when we leave the EU.
I just wish people would either report the story or say nothing

 
GuyBarry
1263782.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:29 am Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
Itís not easy when people are only ever interested in the shock and awe type of story.


Money Box is a generally well-respected programme and doesn't normally go in for scare stories. I think this one was a genuine mistake - the presenter said he had assumed (incorrectly) that the assessment period coincided with the calendar month for all claimants, rather than being different for each claimant. (Although a bit of elementary research would have shown otherwise.)

 
suze
1263785.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:41 am Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
Another one this week has been the story about how we are all going to become cruel to animals when we leave the EU.


That one is complicated, and since it's not the subject of this thread we shan't go into detail here.

But both sides are right, both sides are wrong. Michael Gove said all along - and has reiterated in recent days - that there will be new British legislation to give effect to animal sentience. (Although getting that legislation into an already overfull parliamentary calendar may prove tricky.)

On the other hand, the government was at one point claiming that no new legislation was necessary because the matter was already covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. By announcing that he will be bringing forward new legislation, Mr Gove appears now to accept that this is not the case, so you may well ask why the government previously said that it was.

 
Dix
1263807.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:59 am Reply with quote

MoneyBox has just explained that the facts werent right because someone made assumptions that shouldn't have been made. I turned on the radio in the middle of it so didn't hear everything.

 
GuyBarry
1263809.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:08 am Reply with quote

Yes - see my post 1263782 above. I think Paul Lewis said the actual number of people affected in December will be around 20,000 - other claimants will be affected in different months.

What's slightly concerning is that many people who heard the original report last week won't have heard it on Money Box, but on Today or on the hourly news bulletins, where it was also heavily featured. So they'll be unaware of this correction.

 
barbados
1263992.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:42 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
barbados wrote:
Another one this week has been the story about how we are all going to become cruel to animals when we leave the EU.


That one is complicated, and since it's not the subject of this thread we shan't go into detail here.

But both sides are right, both sides are wrong. Michael Gove said all along - and has reiterated in recent days - that there will be new British legislation to give effect to animal sentience. (Although getting that legislation into an already overfull parliamentary calendar may prove tricky.)

On the other hand, the government was at one point claiming that no new legislation was necessary because the matter was already covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. By announcing that he will be bringing forward new legislation, Mr Gove appears now to accept that this is not the case, so you may well ask why the government previously said that it was.
post 1263991

 
GuyBarry
1265998.  Sat Dec 09, 2017 6:41 am Reply with quote

I took part in a Universal Credit focus group recently, where this very issue was raised (amongst many others). The organizers have now written to me to point out the official Government guidance on the issue, which is fairly comprehensive.

 
dr.bob
1288995.  Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:56 am Reply with quote

This seems like a good place as any.

Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, has been caught telling porkies to parliament. After writing to her department and trying to set up a meeting, to no avail, the head of the National Audit Office released an open letter specifying statements in parliament made by Ms McVey that were false.

Hours later, cue Ms McVey in parliament apologising for "unintentionally misleading" parliament. At least, she apologised for one falsehood (that the NAO report claimed the rolling out of UC should be happening faster). Strangely there was no mention of another falsehood (that UC is working, when the NAO report clearly states that this is yet to be proven).

 

Page 1 of 1

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group