From 1 November 2015 there are new arrangements to determine the Universal Credit prescription charge exemption.
From Sunday, patients claiming exemption on the grounds of UC are eligible for free prescriptions if they receive:
- Universal Credit and had no earnings or net earnings up to £435 during the most recent assessment period
- Universal Credit which includes an element for a child and/or limited capability for work or limited capability for work related activity, and had no earnings or net earnings up to £935 during the most recent assessment period.
Patients claiming the UC exemption should show their claim award at the point of dispensing, having considered whether their earnings are still within the threshold limits.
Most prescription forms will not yet have a box for Universal Credit; patients should tick the box for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
If patients are in doubt about their exemption status they should pay the charge and be given the NHS receipt form FP57 to claim any refund.
If the patient cannot show their claim award, and refuses to pay the charge, dispensers should tick the ‘evidence not seen’ box.
Patients should note that exemption claims are checked and patients found to have wrongly claimed may have to pay a penalty charge, as well as the charge due.
Universal Credit (UC) is a single system of means-tested support for working-age people in and out of work. This will replace some existing means-tested benefits, including income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.
The assessment period will run for a calendar month from the date of the patient’s claim for Universal Credit (which will be shown on the award notice), and between the same dates each month after that.
During the early stages of UC, all those getting UC were automatically entitled to help with health costs (free NHS prescriptions), but arrangements have been revised in light of increasing recipient numbers.