UK News

Universal credit breach could see NHS and caregivers lose all or part of the £ 500 bonus UK News

The NHS and social workers could lose some or even all of their Covid premium if a member of their household claims universal credit, officials have admitted.

Vital healthcare workers were promised the bounty last month for their remarkable commitment and courage throughout the pandemic.

However, the one-off payment of £ 735 – which averages around £ 500 after deductions – could be drastically reduced or even erased thanks to the way the benefit calculations are made.

Universal credit is means tested – therefore, how much you get is determined by how much you earn. The more you earn – in this case through a one-time bonus – the less you earn the following month.

For every additional pound earned by a person on universal credit – whether through higher wages, overtime or bonuses – the benefit entitlement decreases by 63 pence, not the whole of £ 1. This means that workers “should keep at least part of their premium”.

The news of possible deductions from the one-off payment has been greeted with dismay and seething disappointment on the part of NHS workers.

A nursing assistant told Wales Online: ‘I didn’t see my children for six weeks at the start of the pandemic – not only did I sacrifice my time with them, but I risked my life as well.

“This bonus is taxed at source, so it’s over £ 200 less than the payout that was made.

“And now I could end up losing more because, being a single parent, I claim certain benefits. To be honest, that sounds like a huge slap in the face.

Another NHS worker, she had only been receiving universal credit since July 2020 due to changing personal circumstances.

She said despite her work throughout the pandemic, she would see her health workers’ premium reduced to just £ 195 after tax, with national insurance and universal credit taking their part.

She said she “couldn’t believe” that this was happening and that it made people like her “not deserve” to receive their bonuses, despite their hard work.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘We thank all NHS staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

“Universal credit is a means-tested benefit – premiums are treated as earnings and payments are gradually reduced as a person’s earnings increase.”