The MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Jamie Stone, has written to the Prime Minister asking for a meeting to discuss solutions to what he calls a ‘failure in the system’ for claimants of Universal Credit who are paid 4-weekly by their employer when it comes to accessing the Cost of Living Payment.
Mr Stone writes:
“The Cost of Living Payment is attached to the Universal Credit claim.
“Therefore, the problem arises if the claimant received a nil award during the qualifying month for the Cost of Living Payment.
“If this happens, the system does not recognise this person as a claimant for Universal Credit and deems them ineligible for the Cost of Living Payment.
“This means they are losing out on at least £324 – one of the two Cost of Living Payment instalments totalling £650.”
In the letter, the MP suggests that a solution would be to expand the qualifying dates for the Cost of Living Payment, taking in a larger group of claimants and ensuring that ‘everyone who needs the payment receives it’.
Commenting, Mr Stone said:
“This is a small failure with a huge impact for those affected.
“If you are unlucky enough to receive your once-a-year nil award during the narrow qualifying period for the Cost of Living Payment, you miss out on a substantial amount of money that could be put towards heating as we head into another harsh Highland winter.
“When I asked the Prime Minister about this oversight during Prime Minister’s Questions last week, he pointed me towards discretionary funding that my constituents can’t access.
“This is a Government failure that needs addressing urgently, not swept under the rug.
“I also tabled a Written Question to the Government asking how many people had been impacted by this issue only to be told it was ‘not possible’ to identify this number.
“My concern is that this is not a one-off case.
“If it’s happening to my constituents, it will be happening to others and the Government does not hold the data to understand the scale of the issue.
“I hope the Prime Minister accepts my request to meet so we can come to a resolution together.”