A number of Facebook posts, and a widely shared tweet, have compared monthly Universal Credit payments with daily allowances in the House of Lords.
The posts and the tweet all said: “In April a member of the House of Lords (inc Lord Lebedev) will receive £323 per DAY A single person on Universal Credit will receive £334 per MONTH”.
This uses the correct figures, but it is missing some important context, because not all peers receive the amount mentioned, nor do they receive it every day—while some single people on Universal Credit also receive more, in particular if they are eligible for help with housing payments, or if they have children or a disability.
We wrote about a very similar claim in 2020.
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What do members of the House of Lords get?
It is true that most members of the House of Lords can claim an “attendance allowance” of £323 for each day that they attend the House and do parliamentary work. However, not all of them “will receive” this every day.
When doing other types of official work away from the House, peers can only claim a “reduced allowance” of £162 per day. (They can also claim travel expenses.)
The fact that peers can claim these allowances also doesn’t mean they always do—either because they don’t attend the House every day, or because they don’t claim for all the days on which they do attend.
In 2020/21, the latest financial year for which we have data, members of the House of Lords between them attended an average of 68 days each, out of the 164 official sitting days available, and claimed an average of £11,830 each. Altogether, 259 peers out of 857 did not claim any allowances during the year, 62 did not attend the House for any days, and eight attended for 160 days or more.
Lord Lebedev, who is mentioned in the Facebook post, attended the House for one day during 2021/22, but did not claim any allowances.
Members of the Lords who have salaried positions, for instance as ministers, cannot claim this allowance at all.
Increases in the allowance for peers are linked to the increase in MPs’ salaries, which are set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) and based on average public sector pay increases.
Allowances are not liable for income tax.
What does Universal Credit pay?
The current monthly standard Universal Credit allowance for single people aged 25 or over is £324.84. This will rise to £334.91 in April 2022.
In practice, however, many single claimants will receive more, if they are eligible for extra payments. In particular, this will include people who need help with housing costs, or who have children or a disability.
Many other single recipients of Universal Credit will receive less than their monthly allowance, however, if they also earn more than a certain amount from work.
Universal Credit payments are also not liable for income tax.
Photograph by Greggy1900