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Universal Credit: Death of Applicants

Volume 644: debated on Monday 2 July 2018

8. How many universal credit applicants have died during the period that their application was being assessed and as a result have received a zero payment for the days during that period when they were alive. (906163)

For universal credit full service, around 1,200 cases have been closed with a deceased closure reason since roll-out began in 2016, with the vast majority receiving a payment.

I know of cases where no universal credit payment has been received when constituents have passed away towards the end of their assessment period. Essentially, the DWP classes someone who dies at the end of an assessment period as having died at the beginning. Will the Minister address this so that bereaved families are not financially punished?

I have corresponded with the hon. Gentleman about one specific case. There are circumstances in which payment is still made after the death of a claimant and where payments have continued for two subsequent assessment periods, such as when the individual was in a couple. However, I note the hon. Gentleman’s point and will look into the policy.

A connected problem might be that the Department does not tell people whether they are entitled to prescriptions when their UC claim is awarded. Will the Department please start doing that, because several of my constituents have been in touch in deep distress because of the fivefold fines that they have been forced to pay?

We do not want anybody to be in distress. If colleagues on either side of the House have specific cases, they should bring them to Ministers. We hear a lot of general commentary, but we would like to help individuals, so please bring us those specific cases.