The SNP has criticised the UK government over “spiteful” guidance which warns that applicants for Universal Credit will automatically lose their tax credits – even if their Universal Credit application is rejected.
The guide published by the DWP explains that “not all tax credit recipients will be eligible to receive universal credit. If you claim universal credit, your tax credit claim will be closed, even if you aren’t eligible to receive universal credit.”
The UK government has also refused to give guidance on which benefit people should be claiming, stating: “DWP and HMRC cannot advise whether claiming universal credit or tax credits will be better for you.”
The House of Commons detailed this issue in a survey on people’s experiences of the benefits system during the coronavirus outbreak – including concerns that “people who were already claiming working tax credits told us that it hadn’t been made clear to them that making a claim for universal credit would automatically stop their existing benefits.”
SNP MSP Bob Doris said: “It’s extremely concerning to hear of people left with no government support after applying for Universal Credit, and having their working tax credits cancelled automatically.
“People across the country are struggling to make ends meet during this crisis – and the threat of having that financial safety net removed will be worrying for families in need of support during this challenging time.
“This guidance appears reckless and spiteful. Now, more than ever, we need a welfare system which is easy to use, so that people don’t fall foul of the complexities of applying for benefits and end up with no support whatsoever.
“The UK government must urgently bridge these gaps in support and ensure that no one is left behind.”
Figures releases by the DWP show that around 1.9 million people have begun a claim for universal credit since COVID-19 took hold in the UK.