The BBC is reporting a change to benefit payments that starts today. All benefits will start being paid fortnightly in arrears. That’s instead of a week in arrears or even in advance as some benefits are at present.
So what’s the big deal?
A week’s difference in payments may not sound much, but any change to payment dates affects your budgeting. If you’re paid monthly and suddenly you are told this month’s pay won’t arrive to the end of next month, that’s likely to cause you some problems. And people on benefits, by definition, are least likely to have the resources to handle a loss of cashflow. If your freezer is full, you have savings in the bank, and your services are on quarterly bills you can cope. But if you have no savings, you are on a prepay meter, and the cupboard is bare, this change is likely to be a nightmare.
Apparently, you can ask for a loan: but it will be docked from your benefit over coming weeks, so you’ll still lose money.
Until the BBC raised the issue, there’s been virtually no publicity. There’s nothing I can find on the Department of Work and Pensions website. Some individual claimants have had letters, but there’s been no advice or awareness campaign. In fact, there’s been no debate or discussion in Parliament either.
It’s a mean change, affecting the poorest hardest, and sneaked through. Another Labour triumph.