As the Social Security (Additional Payments) (No. 2) Bill moves through Parliament, we urge MPs to make key changes to ensure the most marginalized are able to access the support available

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The Social Security (Additional Payments) (No. 2) Bill provides for much-needed support for those most impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. However, the way that eligibility for thee payments is determined means that some of the most vulnerable will be left out of support for arbitrary or technical reasons.

Groups at risk of being excluded from support under the current Bill include:

  • Some sanctioned Universal Credit recipients
  • People with fluctuating income
  • People on contributory Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

Our recommendations for amendments to the Bill which would ensure that those who need it are not excluded from support, include:

Extending the qualifying period for eligibility for the payments

This would constitute an adequate safeguard to ensure payments are not made to people in stable employment who no longer need it, whilst mitigating the risk that people on fluctuating incomes not receiving the payments because of short-term increase in pay. It would also reduce the risk that sanctioned claimants are excluded from support.

Including sanctioned Universal Credit recipients within the scope of automatic entitlement

Those who have a UC sanction imposed are often vulnerable and disengaged from the system. There is a possibility that, even if a discretionary fund was open, many sanctions claimants might not apply for this support due to lack of knowledge, support or administrative difficulties. It is, therefore, preferable that this group receives an automatic payment.

Creating a discretionary fund for groups not within the remit of the default scheme

We recommend the provision of an alternative scheme for those who, by virtue of fluctuating outcomes or benefit sanctions, miss out on the 2023/2024 Cost of Living Payments.

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