BENEFITS EXPERT: We’re both parents so why is she getting more benefits?​​​​​​​

Q. I am currently receiving Universal Credit as well as maternity allowance, my friend is also in a similar position but she receives Statutory Maternity Pay as well as a top up of Universal Credit.

Friday, 28th August 2020, 12:00 am
Your maternity allowance questions answered.

Our circumstances are broadly similar for example it is both our first child, we are single and the only real difference is how much rent we pay. However my friend gets more Universal Credit than I do. Is this correct and if so why is this.

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A. For the purposes of calculating income for Universal Credit some benefits are ignored, some benefits are taken into account and other income can be ignored or have a partial disregard. In the situation you describe your friends Statutory Maternity Pay is classed as employment income and will be subject to an earnings disregard. Maternity Allowance however is classed as benefit income and not employment income and isn’t subject to the earnings disregard so it will reduce the overall amount of Universal Credit you are getting.

Q. I recently applied for a funeral payment under the Social Fund scheme but was unsuccessful, although I receive Job Seekers Allowance it is the contribution based type and to get the funeral payment I understand you need to be getting the income related type. I only have the Job Seekers Allowance as a source of income and currently am staying with friends so I have no liability to pay rent. Is there any form of help I can get in this situation?

A. In the situation described you can currently claim Universal Credit, during the current pandemic the government introduced increases to some benefits, Universal Credit being one of these. If you are only getting Contribution Based JSA and are a single person with no dependents then you can get a top up of Universal Credit of £20/week (although the payment will be made every 4 weeks, your JSA will continue to be paid fortnightly). Once you have made the claim for UC and have received confirmation you are entitled to the benefit (and there shouldn’t be any reason why this would be the case) then you can re-apply for the Funeral Payment as Universal Credit is a qualifying benefit for the purposes of obtaining a funeral grant from the Social Fund. Please be aware that the normal rules in obtaining the payment will apply and it is possible that the application may be unsuccessful for other reasons (for example another family member who is not getting benefits may have equal responsibility to be liable to pay). However there is nothing to prevent you taking the above course of action. Please also remember the re-application (or any application) must be made within 6 months of the date the deceased person passed away.