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NJC Pay Deal - Information regarding Support Staff on Universal Credit - 23/10/2023

This information is being shared regarding the issue that will arise when this year’s NJC pay deal is finalised. This is likely to impact on support staff.

When the pay agreement is eventually finalised and implemented, the payment of many months’ worth of back pay will have an adverse impact on employees in receipt of Universal Credit (UC), which works on a monthly snapshot of income rather than any form of averaging (as occurs naturally in annual systems, like taxation).

When income goes down, the system responds by increasing UC the following month, and if there’s a permanent increase in earnings, the amount of UC reduces. However, if there is a one-off payment in a particular month, there is no way for a claimant to tell the DWP that it is a temporary increase in earnings. In the UC computer system, it just looks like they have been very well paid. What then happens is, the additional pay (including any backdated award) is considered in the amount of UC someone receives in the following monthly period. In most cases the result is that UC is reduced by 55p for every extra £1 someone earns after income tax, national insurance, and pension contributions. Very real problems occur if a one-off back payment means someone’s UC falls to zero.

In response to these concerns, the National Employers and the Department for Education (DfE) have provided the following guidance:

, “Universal Credit is such a very specific issue that applies in different ways to different people, it is not possible for us to issue any national guidance. Employers should advise employees affected by this issue to speak to their Universal Credit Work Coach via their online account or call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644.”

It is important to note that the National Employers do not recommend that schools stagger the payments.                                        

We understand that this issue is complex and can have a significant impact on UC recipients. It is imperative that affected employees are made aware of the existing support channels and encouraged to seek guidance from their designated Work Coach or the Universal Credit Helpline.