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As was widely predicted, the chancellor moved to cut the waiting time for universal credit (UC) in his budget last week. However, the change is less than expected and will not take effect until February next year.

Last week the chancellor announced that the seven-day waiting period for UC is to be axed, reducing the total wait for a first payment from six weeks to five. This was less than the two week cut that had been hinted at in the media.

In addition, as the change is not being introduced until February, it will leave claimants applying now faced with trying to get an advance payment if they wish to receive any money before Christmas.

The government have also announced that the advance payment can be paid back over a twelve month period rather than six and that the total amount that can be paid in advance will increase from 50% of expected entitlement to 100%. This change is not being introduced until January 2018, but people who make a claim in December can make a first request for 50% then and a further request in January.

However, as both the advance and the time period have doubled, it will still see struggling claimants having the same level of benefits taken back off them every month to repay the advance, but for double the amount of time.

More details of the changes are available on the .gov.uk website

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