A Cardiff family struggles to pay for their needs after missing their monthly Universal Credit payment due to how often they receive income.
Lynette and Mark Davies live with their daughter Sophie in a council house in Fairwater. Mark is the sole breadwinner, receiving just over £ 1,200 every four weeks as part of his job at a Co-op store.
The family receives universal credit because Lynette is unable to work due to a disability. But last month they didn’t receive their regular payment as Mark’s salary is paid every four weeks rather than monthly – and he was paid twice during the month-long review period. of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
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This put Mark above the income threshold for universal credit, which means the family will not receive any payments between October 29 and December 29. And the Cardiff Council uses the same system as the DWP to monitor wages, which means the family’s housing tax has also increased.
Lynette, 48, said: “We feel very upset and very anxious. It doesn’t help our sanity. I dread the coming post. We have really struggled in the last two weeks. We have been successful. to pay the bills but everything else has been a struggle from day to day. ”
The DWP and the council said a household’s universal credit payments and council tax vary month-to-month based on income.
The one-earner Davies family receives support because Lynette’s fibromyalgia, diabetes and severe arthritis prevent her from working. Their 28-year-old daughter Sophie has mental health issues and is also unable to work.
Lynette said: “Our first universal credit payment was in July. It is around £ 178 per month, but as my husband is paid every four weeks and universal credit is monthly, the DWP claimed that he had been paid twice last month.
“One of my husband’s salary payments was October 21 and the next was November 18. They were both put together and the implication was that he was actually making £ 2,500 a month.
“I tried to contact the DWP but they said there was nothing they could do. It was such a shock. We get kicked in the teeth on the left, right and center.
“The DWP didn’t even tell us [initially]. I had to verify the payment on November 25th and he told me we would not have received anything that month. Panicked, I called the DWP to tell me we had nothing for November. ”
The family usually get a municipal tax cut, but Cardiff Council increased the rate to £ 184 per month after Mark was found to have had an increase in his income last month – despite the fact that he received its usual amount of four weeks.
“My husband has worked at the Fairwater Co-op for over 20 years and has always been paid every four weeks,” said Lynette.
“He technically makes 13 salaries a year and Universal Credit is paid 12 times a year. The DWP has said the same could happen again in August and September next year because of the way my husband is paid.”
Lynette says the council advised the family earlier this year to apply for universal credit due to their financial difficulties, but now they wish they had never done so.
“Because I have a disability and received an improved rate of personal independence payment, our council tax was £ 78 per month, but when we started to get universal credit the tax d housing has grown to £ 153 and now to £ 184, ”added Lynette. .
Lynette says she asked for the reinstatement of the municipal tax benefit next month. The council says that a household with declining income can expect their housing tax to decrease.
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“We are already under a lot of pressure because my mother had to go to a nursing home because of her dementia,” added Lynette.
“As a result, the council is not going to let us stay in this house long term, as the rental is in my mother’s name.”
The board told Lynette that she couldn’t take over the rental as it had been on it before – when her father passed away and it was passed on to her mother – and the law says that can’t be done. produce more than once.
“The council only gave us the occupation until they moved us,” Lynette said. “It has been my home for 43 years. I tried to sort through the house and find things that I had never seen before. It’s difficult.
“We are also penalized with around £ 80 of Universal Credit [each month] because we have mom’s room empty. But it’s not our fault as we are waiting to be relocated to a two-room apartment.
“We don’t live. We exist day to day, waiting to know when and where we need to move. My husband works in Fairwater, and this area is all my daughter and I have known, but we’re told we could be. moved anywhere in Cardiff. It seems as soon as we cross one obstacle, there is another. ”
The DWP told WalesOnline the family had been offered a “budget advance” but later clarified that those offers had not been made in the month the family went without payment.
A DWP spokesperson said: “Universal Credit adjusts to a household’s income to ensure people receive the right level of support. Mr Davies received more than £ 2,500 in salary during the couple’s last appraisal period and as a result their payment has been reduced. But if Mr. Davies earns less over the next month, the couple will see an increase in their next payment. ”
And a council spokesperson said: “Eligibility for a municipal tax reduction is assessed on income received each month and the amount of the reduction applied to a household’s account can vary from month to month. other according to the income received.
“Thus, a household which expects its income to decrease by one month, can expect the amount of the reduction in the council tax to which it is entitled to increase.
The council’s money advisory team is available to help residents with money problems and can offer advice on budgeting, maximizing income, applying for grants and reductions as well as practical support. . ”
The spokesperson added that the rental of the family council house had already been taken over once and “the law on rental succession is clear that only one succession can take place.”
She said: “With around 8,000 people currently on the waiting list for housing in the city – a significant proportion of whom are currently living in overcrowded conditions – it is essential that the council make the best use of its stock in matching households with the right size house for their needs.
“There is a very strong demand for social housing in the city but unfortunately only a limited number of housing becomes available each year and these are allocated according to priority needs. Renters who are waiting to downsize in a smaller property are advised to consider a number of areas of choice on their applications to improve their chances of receiving a suitable housing offer. ”
A report by the Bevan Foundation released this week showed that nearly four in 10 Welsh households (39%) did not have enough money to buy anything other than everyday items, up from 33% in May.
The study also found that more than three in 10 Welsh households with a net income of less than £ 40,000 have seen their income decline since May 2021.
Cardiff Council says its financial advice team can provide advice if tenants call 029 2087 1071 or email [email protected]
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