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28 October, 2020 Open access

Work and Pensions Committee seeks urgent update on DWP’s plans for the suspended minimum income floor in universal credit

Letter to Secretary of State asks whether suspension will be extended beyond its 12 November 2020 expiry date

The Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee Stephen Timms has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary seeking an urgent update on the government’s plans for the suspended minimum income floor (MIF) in universal credit during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

In his letter to the Secretary of State, Dr Thérèse Coffey, Mr Timms highlights that, as the law stands, under the Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) Regulations 2020 (SI.No.371/2020) the suspension of the MIF (that applies to self-employed claimants in universal credit) is due to come to an end on 12 November 2020.

Since this date is fast approaching, Mr Timms asks -

‘When you gave evidence to the Committee on 30 September, we asked whether this suspension would be extended. You told us then that this was ‘very actively and carefully being considered.'

... Are you now in a position to let us know the outcome of that consideration? If not, when do you expect to announce your decision?’

In addition, Mr Timms notes that DWP guidance on its Understanding Universal Credit gov.uk pages has changed since the evidence session. While its self-employment guidance as at September 2020 stated that the MIF suspension-

‘... will last for the duration of the outbreak.’

- the guidance now states that -

‘You will be informed before the Minimum Income Floor is reinstated for you’.

Querying whether this change of wording indicates it is no longer the government’s policy that the MIF will be suspended for the duration of the outbreak, Mr Timms asks Dr Coffey to provide a response to his requests 'as a matter of urgency', and no later than 3 November 2020.

Mr Timms letter to Dr Coffey (dated 27 October 2020) is available from parliament.uk