Waiting period increasing for some benefit claimants
From 27 October 2014, new ESA and JSA claimants will have to wait seven days, rather than three, before their benefit will be processed.
The principle behind this move is that benefits are not intended to provide financial support for brief breaks in employment or periods of sickness. The government expects people to use any savings or earnings they may have to budget for an initial period of unemployment. Unfortunately, this does not take into account those people who might have existing debt or who have no savings.
Under certain circumstances, a person may be exempt from the seven waiting day period: a person who has a linking claim to another benefit within 13 weeks (JSA, ESA, income support and carer’s allowance), JSA claimants who are under 18 years of age and in severe hardship and ESA claimants who are terminally ill.
In addition, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the 2013 Autumn Statement that seven waiting days would be served following a new award for universal credit from 27 April 2015. This would apply to those people who are in the all-work related activity group.
Consideration is being given to exemptions for people who are terminally ill, for recent victims of domestic violence, for 16 and 17 year old who are without parental support and for discharged prisoners.
There is already a 4 and a half week waiting period before universal credit is paid. The additional seven day waiting period will mean new claimants will not receive their payments for at least five weeks. Because child, housing and childcare elements are also part of universal credit, this will put extreme financial pressure on single parent families.
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