An NHS worker has claimed a bonus given to her by the government to acknowledge her hard work during the pandemic meant she did not receive universal credit for the month.
Becca Gerrard works in cardiology at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff two days a week, and was boosted by the news she would be receiving a £500 bonus as a ‘thank you’ for work during the coronavirus pandemic.
She received the payment in May, but the 37-year-old said she was shocked to discover that it meant the following month she did not receive her universal credit as a consequence.
This is because Universal Credit is means-tested and bonuses – like the Covid payout for health workers – are considered to be the same as earnings.
She received the payment in May, but the 37-year-old said she was shocked to discover it meant the following month she did not receive her universal credit.
The credit is means-tested and bonuses, such as the Covid payout for health workers, are considered to be the same as earnings.
Miss Gerrard, of Roath, Cardiff, told Walesonline : “I work for the NHS two days a week and I received a £500 bonus for working through the pandemic in May.
“I claim tax credits, but because of the bonus received, a payment has not been made to me [in June].
“There has been no warning beforehand and I have been offered no help or support to rectify the matter.
“It seems that the thank you NHS received in May had been quickly followed by ‘you’re not going to be eating in June’.
“It’s really not much of a bonus if DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) gifts it to you one month only to take it off you the next.
“Due to the lack of support and unwillingness to accept the increase in income was from the government bonus and not a change in personal circumstances from Universal tax credits, I’m more than likely going to have to take out some sort of crisis loan.
“This loan will then have to be paid back leaving me in fact out of pocket.”
Because Universal Credit is means tested the amount you get is determined by how much you earn.
For every additional pound earned by someone on Universal Credit benefit entitlement reduces by 63p, not the full £1. This means workers “should retain at least part of their bonus”.
A DWP spokesman said: “We thank all NHS staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Universal Credit is a means tested benefit – bonuses are treated as earnings and payments are gradually reduced as someone’s earnings increase.”
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We are not able to exempt the payment from benefits, as this would be a function of the UK Government. Staff can choose to receive the payment in instalments over a number of months.”