Thousands of frontline healthcare workers could lose part or even all of their Covid bonus if a their household claims Universal Credit, officials have admitted.
NHS and care workers were promised the bonus last month for their remarkable commitment and courage throughout the pandemic.
However, the £735 one-off payment - which averages at around £500 after deductions - could be significantly reduced or even wiped thanks to the way in which benefit calculations are made.
Universal Credit is means tested - therefore the amount you get is determined by how much you earn. The more you earn – in this case through a one-off bonus - the less you get in the following month.
For every additional pound earned by someone on Universal Credit - whether through higher wages, additional hours or bonus payments - benefit entitlement reduces by 63p, not the full £1. This means that workers "should retain at least part of their bonus".
News of possible deductions to the one-off payment, has been met with dismay and seething disappointment from NHS workers.
One nursing assistant told Wales Online : "I didn't see my kids for six weeks at the start of the pandemic - not only did I sacrifice my time with them but I was also risking my life. This bonus is getting taxed at source so it's more than £200 less than the payment that's been given.
"And now I could end up losing more of that because as I working single parent I claim some benefits. It feels like a massive slap in the face to be honest."
Another NHS worker she had only been receiving Universal Credit since July 2020 due to her personal circumstances changing.
She said that despite working throughout the pandemic she would see her health workers' bonus reduced to just £195 after tax, national insurance and universal credit take their share.
She said she "could not believe" this was happening and that it made people like her feel as though they "don't deserve" to receive their bonuses, despite their hard work.
A spokeswoman from 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 – bonuses are treated as earnings and payments are gradually reduced as someone’s earnings increase.”
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