MILLIONS of struggling households applying for Universal Credit and other benefits should take note of the six changes coming this year.
Changes are coming for those who claim certain benefits, including one that receives half a million tax credits.
Tax credit applicants will be migrated to Universal Credit this month.
It’s essential to take note of how your new rules may soon affect your payout so you don’t fall short.
Here are six major changes taking effect this year and how you can prepare for them:
From now on, more tax credit recipients will be asked to apply for Universal Credit instead.
Migration notices will be sent to more than 500,000 applicants who currently receive tax credits.
By migrating to Universal Credit, claimants will continue to receive the benefits to which they are entitled through a modern benefits system.
More than two million people are still on old-fashioned benefits like income support, but the government plans to shift the majority of them to Universal Credit by the end of 2024.
However, it moves back the managed migration of people from employment and support allowance to 2028.
The process began in May last year following a successful pilot project in Harrogate, Yorkshire in July 2019.
The full list of legacy benefits transferred to Universal Credit includes:
- Housing allowance
- Child tax credit
- Work Tax Credit
- Income support
- Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Employment and Income Support Benefit
You should have already received a letter detailing what you need to do – you will need to apply for Universal Credit within three months of its arrival.
If you don’t apply, your inheritance will stop and you could end up with a hole in your finances.
For more help on what to do to prepare, we spoke to a benefits expert for advice.
Coverage of mortgage interest
The government has extended the Mortgage Interest Support Loan (SMI) scheme to another 200,000 on Universal Credit.
The SMI helps those on Universal Credit — and other benefits — by providing them with a low-interest loan.
Assistance is for mortgage payments or loans taken out to help repair damage to the home.
The government has also changed the criteria that applicants must meet to obtain it.
Now those on Universal Credit will only need to claim the aid for three months before they can use SMI.
Previously, claimants had to apply for Universal Credit for nine months and be unemployed for that long.
Support will automatically be provided three months after your first payment, but you are not required to use support right away.
If you’re worried about mortgage payments, there’s help out there.
Entitledto’s free calculator determines whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits, and Universal Credit.
Use Policy in Practice’s calculator not only to find out what benefits you might receive, but also to find out how much money you’ll have left each month after paying housing costs.
The Charity Turn2Us Benefits Calculator determines which means-tested benefits you may be eligible for, as well as whether you are eligible for Carer’s Allowance.
Groups like Citizens Advice, StepChange and National Debtline can help you manage your debt.
Changing payment dates
Thousands of people applying for benefits could see a change in their payments within weeks
With more holidays to come, claimants will want to keep a close eye on when they might get their benefits.
If your payment date falls on a holiday, you’ll probably get it sooner.
You don’t have to do anything – the payment will still be made and the amount will not change.
Here’s when the DWP will make your payments around other holidays.
- Beginning of May bank holiday – payments will be made on May 1, instead the money will arrive on April 28
- Public holiday for the coronation of King Charles III – Payments will be made on May 5, not May 8
- Spring Bank Holiday – May 26, not May 29
- summer holiday – payments will be made on August 25, not August 28
- Festive period – payments due on December 25, 26 and 27 of this year, will instead be paid on December 22
If you do not receive your allowance payment one working day before the public holiday, you must contact DWP directly.
You can also submit a complaint to them to resolve a problem if your payment is wrong.
Changes to childcare allowance
The chancellor’s ‘back to work’ budget has also been used to encourage more than 700,000 parents on benefits to find jobs or increase their hours with new measures.
Mr Hunt is introducing sweeping childcare changes to help mums and dads go to work.
Currently, parents can recoup 85% of their childcare costs, but must first pay upfront.
This means parents may need to find upwards of £1,000 for a month’s childcare up front before getting any help.
But child care payments will soon be paid upfront rather than in arrears in a big win for Sun’s Make Universal Credit Work campaign.
And childcare allowance for claimants will rise from £646 per month for a single child to £950, and from £1,108 for two children to £1,630.
The ride comes with a huge £4billion childcare giveaway that will give parents 30 free hours a week for one and two-year-olds.
It extends the existing 30-hour program for working parents of three- and four-year-olds.
The exact date when these changes will come into effect has not been confirmed.
Additional payments for cost of living
Millions of people on Benefits and Universal Credit will receive a one-off £900 cost of living payment.
The government confirmed when the three payments will be made last week.
A payment of £301 will be made directly to bank accounts between April 25 and May 17.
Those eligible for the tax-exempt payment are households receiving certain benefits, including Universal Credit.
One million households with tax credits will receive the first half of the cost of living payment from May 2.
The payments are part of a package of broader government support announced to tackle the cost of living.
It includes an additional payment of £300 for eligible families in the autumn, then a payment of £299 in the spring of 2024.
There will also be a cost of living payment of £150 for eligible people with certain disabilities.
Work Sanctions and Rules Changes
More than 100,000 Universal Credit applicants will have to intensify their job search or risk seeing their benefits reduced.
In his spring budget, the chancellor announced his intention to increase the minimum amount they must work before having to engage with government job coaches.
The administrative threshold of remuneration will increase from 15 to 18 hours per week.
This means that anyone currently working less than 18 hours will have new requirements to meet with DWP officials to find more work.
And if they don’t, they risk having their benefits reduced.
The government has also confirmed that it is strengthening enforcement of the Universal Credit sanctions regime.
This includes additional training for Jobcentre work coaches to ensure they apply sanctions effectively, including for applicants who do not seek or accept employment.
This also includes automating the administrative elements of the sanctions process, including sending automated messages to claimants who fail to meet with their job coach and take active steps to get into work or increase their income.
The exact date when the new rules will come into effect has not been confirmed, but is expected to happen in the 2023/24 financial year.
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