Rough justice: problems with monthly assessment of pay and circumstances in universal credit, and what can be done about them

This report identifies a range of problems arising from the rigid system of monthly assessment of both income and circumstances in universal credit, based on cases from CPAG’s Early Warning System, and proposes practical solutions.These cases show how the mismatch of pay cycles and assessment periods and the 'whole-month' approach to changes of circumstances can disadvantage claimants and leave people struggling to budget with unpredictable and arbitrary awards. 

People can lose the effect of work allowances, be inappropriately benefit capped while in work, and lose out on support for housing costs. These problems should surprise nobody, having been raised in parliament as far back as 2012 when universal credit was still in the design stage. We hope that now powerful evidence is emerging of their impacts, more attention will be given to fixing them if the system is to be ready for managed migration to begin and manageable for all claimants, particularly for families with children. 

Download the report